July 2016 - Volume 14, Issue 3  

PeopleFund Working for Economic Justice

By Amber Cooney, Director of Development and Communications, PeopleFund

Staff of PeopleFund
PeopleFund is a non-profit organization that provides capital, education, and professional mentoring to small business owners and entrepreneurs who have limited access to traditional funding and the financial mainstream. Their goal is to give people the opportunity to turn their talents into a sustainable livelihood and achieve financial stability for themselves and their families. PeopleFund inspires, educates, funds, and elevates clients on the path to prosperity and the American Dream.

PeopleFund has seven office locations across Texas, including a headquarters in Austin and satellite offices in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, McAllen, and El Paso. Their commitment to serving diverse communities and underserved populations is reflected in the demographics of their staff: 83 percent are women, half are people of color, 100 percent of upper management are women, and 90 percent of loan officers are bilingual.

Through the generosity of partners like the Adrian Dominican Sisters, PeopleFund is able to offer a 2 percent interest rate reduction for women business owners, as well as a flat 5 percent interest rate for veteran business owners. PeopleFund has lent over $45 million to underserved entrepreneurs, and these businesses have wide community impact: renovation of blighted property, job creation, financial literacy, and valuable goods and services into low-income communities.

Aside from offering flexible and low cost alternatives to traditional bank and venture capital, PeopleFund has developed several in-depth programs and curricula that provide pre- and post-loan support to clients and community partners. Money is not always the answer to small business success, and PeopleFund attributes its very low loan charge-off rate to its dedicated education and training program, as well as the countless statewide partners who bring the curricula and workshops to life. PeopleFund places the utmost importance on building close relationships with clients and adjusting loan amounts, repayments, and terms to consider each client's background, current financial demands, and industry conditions. To date, PeopleFund has provided 55,000 hours of business education and training. 

Kelly Jedele of Let Kelly
PeopleFund takes new entrepreneurs seriously when no one else will; in fact, one of their most successful female clients, Kelly Jedele of Let Kelly, said, "To have [PeopleFund] look at me and see something that I can't see, and then become that person and become successful ... priceless." Now, Kelly owns her own brick and mortar and employs 18 people, many of them single mothers, just like she was when she started out.

Staff of Peoplefund with Lura Mack (front row, center), Director of PAB, on a recent site visit.
Support from the Adrian Dominican Sisters enables PeopleFund to continue its patterns of fast growth, keeping up with the increasing demand from Texas entrepreneurs. As the economic divide between wealthy and poor continues to grow, and unemployment continues to rise, more and more Texans are turning towards self-employment to build sustainable legacies of economic stability that can be handed down from generation to generation. The capital that PeopleFund receives from the Adrian Dominican Sisters will build strong community businesses and bolster women entrepreneurs, people of color, and veterans for decades to come.

For more information on PeopleFund, please visit peoplefund.org.

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