El Paso Times
By: Elvira Valles
August 29, 2010
The nation's largest micro-lender has a regional office in El Paso.
The nonprofit organization ACCION Texas-Louisiana provides microloans when commercial banks don't. They offer small-business loans to those who can't access traditional loan services.
In September, the El Paso office has scheduled the following series of monthly free seminars for small-business owners. All seminars will be at 1359 Lomaland.
Sept. 23, 5:30 p.m.: David Sublasky, city of El Paso food establishment inspector, will speak about code compliance.
Oct. 21, 5:30 p.m.: Bruce Villareal, motivational speaker, will speak about "Effective Sales Strategies," and Elvira Valles, ACCION Texas-Louisiana, will talk about commercial lending.
Nov. 11, 5:30 p.m.: Salvador Rodriguez, Management Solutions, will discuss quality service as an important factor in the bottom line.
ACCION Texas-Louisiana follows the model of U.S. standard commercial lenders. Its goal is to help businesses establish credit and grow to obtain future financing from larger lending institutions. It has the largest and best performing microloan portfolio in the United States -- valued at over $27 million with an average loan size of $16K. Its loans range from $500 to $100,000.
Microlending is becoming an increasingly important strategy for helping low- and moderate-income families. Traditional banking institutions are tightening their guidelines for commercial loans. Due to the sluggish economy, more people are deciding to begin their own businesses to support their families. As a result, the microlending market is seeing two things:
Increased applications for loans from small and startup businesses.
A more experienced and educated borrower pool.
To gain greater control over their working lives, many families are turning to microbusiness. Research finds that at least 1.8 million low-income entrepreneurs do not have access to microfinance products. In El Paso, the demand is greater than ever.
The small-business segment has long had difficulty getting financing from mainstream financial institutions because they either don't have collateral or credit history or they are first-time business owners. ACCION Texas-Louisiana helps micro-entrepreneurs start or strengthen their business, create employment and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities.
Independent studies have also verified that for every dollar ACCION has lent, an additional 60 cents annually is created in new economic activity.
ACCION Texas-Louisiana's microloans created almost 2,200 new jobs and sustained more than 4,000 jobs between June 1994 and 2008.
Elvira M. Valles is regional director for ACCION Texas-Louisiana.