Arizona lender receives $1.75 million to help “underserved” businesses

Underserved and Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs in Arizona who need help scaling their businesses can benefit from a new online lending system announced Tuesday.   

JPMorgan Chase announced it awarded a $1.6 million grant to nonprofit community lender, Accion, to develop a state-of-the-art system that will streamline lending to reach more small businesses to increase their revenues and create new jobs.

Chase also is providing an additional $150,000 to help launch Levanta Phoenix, a pilot program to support Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs.

“We know that access to capital is the number one reason for small businesses failing to scale,” said Monica Villalobos, vice president of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, that hosted a Business Bootcamp in Phoenix where the news was announced Tuesday.  

Minority small businesses are growing at a rate three to four times faster than non-minority businesses, Villalobos said. Yet, their average annual revenue is only $100,000. Non-minority small businesses average $500,000.

“That represents about $36 billion in the Arizona economy that we are not benefiting from because these businesses are not scaling,” said Villalobos, whose organization represents 123,000 Hispanic-owned businesses and 2.3 million Hispanic consumers.

The new lending platform has the potential to eventually assist thousands more small businesses and entrepreneurs in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas, Accion President and CEO Anne Haines said.  

“A lot of entrepreneurs are looking online at 11 at night or 2 in the morning,” said Haines. “This new system will help speed up the process for clients who have little free time on their hands. It provides a fully automated process to apply for a loan.”

Loans are available from $1,000 to $2 million, Haines said.

The enhanced system will have 250 new features to better serve clients. It will allow customers to choose loan size, pledge collateral, take digital signatures and perform other tasks. Once the system is fully operational, a business can find out in as little as  30 minutes whether they can qualify for a loan and for how much.

Video: Anne Haines, president and CEO of community lender Accion, talks about what the grant will do to help underserved entrepreneurs obtain loans. (Courtesy: JPMorgan Chase & Co.)

To assist Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs, the new Levanta Phoenix program will have bilingual loan officers that will develop partnerships with community organizations serving Spanish-speaking populations to increase awareness of Accion’s services. Spanish technical assistance and training services will be available to clients, who will be able to access their loan information online in Spanish.

Accion, an award-winning Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), has operated in Arizona since 2008. It serves underrepresented business owners to promote economic and social benefits.

In the past 11 years, Accion has loaned $31 million to 3,098 small businesses in the state, representing approximately 4,600 jobs. In addition to loans, Accion offers mentoring, connection to business resources, ongoing support, free marketing opportunities and technical assistance.

JPMorgan Chase’s investment in Accion is part of its global $150 million Small Business Forward program, which supports women, minority- and veteran-owned small businesses to help build their long term success.

Small businesses interested in learning more about the new lending platform may visit or call 1-800-508-7624.

Video: Noreen Bishop, head of JPMorgan Chase Private for Arizona and Nevada, announces $1.6 million for state-of-the-art online lending system to help entrepreneurs who historically have struggled to obtain financing. (Courtesy: JPMorgan Chase & Co.)


Header photo courtesy of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Victoria Harker

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