From the desk of the executive director: Center helps businesses resist predatory lenders

Small Business

At the Center for Rural Affairs, we make around 100 loans per year to small rural businesses in our home state of Nebraska. We recently launched a new online lending platform to help our clients resist predatory lenders.

The new platform allows us to prequalify borrowers for larger loans within two business days. Underwriting and final approval follow. We will soon launch an express loan that will allow us to approve certain loans under $10,000 within two days.

These faster turnaround times will help our borrowers avoid predatory and other high-interest online lenders. These lenders offer fast lending decisions, but trap borrowers with high-interest rates and unfair terms.

Our new platform is available in both English and Spanish and is mobile friendly.

To help borrowers build their credit, we now report all of our loans to the three major credit bureaus. Our borrowers often have thin or damaged credit when they come to us. Now, each payment they make to us helps build their credit and improve their access to credit at fair rates.

We are making these changes because we believe that small entrepreneurship remains an important strategy for creating genuine opportunity in rural communities. Access to capital at fair rates is critical to ensuring rural small business owners are able to reach their potential.

One recent business owner is Yomara Hernandez. Owner of Florist Angel’s in Schuyler, Nebraska, Yomara started selling floral arrangements to friends out of her garage in 2013. She has since grown her venture into a full-fledged business. Through our programs, Yomara obtained both business planning assistance as well as financing to invest in her business.

We make loans to grocery stores, hardware stores, restaurants, truckers, contractors, small auto dealers, value-added food businesses, retail shops, bakeries, hair salons, and more. If it exists in a small town, we’ve likely made a business loan for it.

The Center’s small business program serves rural Nebraska. There are similar programs serving most states and regions around the country. If you need help locating a program serving your area, get in touch.