Since 2003, Robin Hood has been investing in programs to encourage entrepreneurship among low-income populations. Currently, we invest around $1.4 million annually to the two leading microfinance organizations in the country – Accion USA and Grameen America – to provide microloans to approximately 6,500 small-business owners and entrepreneurs in New York City.
Today, we had the opportunity to visit Accion and learn about the loan application process from one of their loan officers.
Accion is different from a bank or credit union in that it empowers low-to-moderate income business owners by offering access to capital and financial education that they otherwise would not have. These small business owners, many without a proven track record in business or limited or poor credit history, would be considered ineligible for a loan from a bank. Accion provides these individuals business loans ranging from $500 up to $50,000 along with crucial financial education to help them succeed. And crucially, by doing so, Accion steers these individuals away from predatory lenders that charge exorbitant interest rates or fees for access to capital.
Accion has seen many success stories across NYC, from a woman who started a beauty school and salon in Queens, to a man who leveraged his 15 years of work with the second largest commercial cleaning franchise in the world to start his own firm that serves clients in Brooklyn and Queens. Recently, with funding from Robin Hood’s Relief Fund, Accion has been making loans to small businesses negatively impacted by Hurricane Sandy. By offering low interest rates of 4.99% along with small grants, these business owners have been able to get back on their feet and provide services that their communities rely on. One such entrepreneur, a neighborhood bodega owner in Brooklyn, lost his inventory when the flood waters filled his store. With his loan from Accion, he was able to stock his shelves, get his store back up and running, and serve a community torn apart by the Hurricane.
We are proud to partner with Accion and the entrepreneurs who are creating better opportunities for themselves, their families and their communities.