Local CDFI aims to ‘level the playing field’ with small business loans

Local CDFI aims to 'level the playing field' with small business loans

Photo of woman business owner by Steward Masweneng for Unsplash. (Featured photo by Bruce Mars)

A community development financial institution (CDFI) based in Oak Cliff wants Dallas’ small business owners to know about a fund for traditionally underserved businesses in Dallas.

BCL (Business and Community Lenders) of Texas said Thursday it will offer loans ranging from $10,000-$75,000 through its Dallas Small Business Diversity Fund, which, thanks to a $1 million investment from Comerica Bank, will specifically target Dallas County women and minority-owned with two or more years in businesses operation.

“We know that many minority businesses are often self-funded due to lack of access to capital, and a key component of our mission is to provide emerging small businesses opportunities to expand their operations,” says Rosa Rios Valdez, BCL of Texas’ president and CEO. “We want to help level the playing field with this fund.”

Loan applicants: must be a minority, woman or veteran business owner located in a rural, redevelopment or low- to moderate-income area.

The Dallas Small Business Diversity Fund includes a strategic coaching component with BCL’s entrepreneurship specialists.

“Prior to a loan application, prospective applicants are asked to schedule readiness assessment to ensure they have a strong and organized path to growth,” BCL notes in its statement. “Approved borrowers will receive no-cost business coaching throughout the life of the loan.”

Comerica Bank’s director of small business banking Omar Salah says his bank is committed to investing in CDFIs with more flexible underwriting and collateral requirements than traditional lending programs.

“As a leading bank for business, it is imperative that we raise expectations in all the communities we serve by partnering with nonprofits like the BCL of Texas because they are playing an integral role in closing the access to capital gap for minority and women-owned businesses,” Salah says.

In 2021, Comerica made a three-year, $5 billion small business lending commitment to support communities disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank noted in a press release. At last count, Comerica has assisted more than 8,600 small businesses and funded $2.4 billion (49% of goal) of the loan commitment.

To schedule a Dallas Small Business Diversity Fund consultation visit bcloftexas.org/DDF, or contact loan officer David R. Arriola at [email protected] or 214.688.7456, extension 126. The BCL of Texas headquarters at 400 S. Zang.

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