A gold medal in your own community

REAP Latino Business Center update

Traveling to conferences seems to be the perfect way to get away, stop working, and get to know new places you haven’t visited yet.

Many clients think I take three or four vacations a year and have a robust budget for shopping, eating out and entertainment. 

The comparison reminds me of a picture I saw on Facebook about the value of a house and how it is seen by the lender, the seller, the buyer, your appraiser and your tax assessor.

The opportunity to meet people and learn new things is what really makes the difference. I attended the SCORE National Conference in St. Louis, Mo., in August, where the sessions were as vital to me as the coffee I need to begin the day.

Sessions “Engaging your Community” and “Leading an Inclusive Chapter” were at the top of my list to attend. 

Why? Because we live in a diverse world. We as leaders should reflect the communities we serve. We build relationships with people of different religions, sex, ages and backgrounds. And we make our clients feel valued and respected, because our clients are diverse.

Our staff live and believe in our mission. You can see how powerful this is.

The Latino Business Center staff is extremely competitive not only because our production directly impacts our budget, but also because we are making an impact in the communities we serve.

From 2011 to 2015, REAP awarded 78 loans to Latino small businesses totaling $1,062,928. Since September 2015, we have approved 36 loans totaling $470,350, serving 1,147 participants.

The future is even brighter. Starting in fiscal year 2017, REAP begins a Credit Builder Loan Program that will submit payment history to the three largest credit bureaus in the nation (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian). 

We also continue to build the New American Loan Fund, a private fund that helps Latino borrowers access funds to start and grow their businesses, products and services. The program is able to make loans up to $150,000.

It is hard to believe REAP started in 1990, lending $2,000.

Featured photo: Latino Business Center Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 - Arcadio and Ebodio Zepeda, owners of Tu Casa in Norfolk, Neb., have managed and owned a food truck since 2007, providing authentic Mexican cuisine they learned growing up in Jalisco, Mexico. Last summer they moved to Norfolk. Their dream is to have their own restaurant and to be able to expand their menu and offer new services. Since 2007, they have been writing their success page by page. With these entrepreneurs, we know there are more great things to come!