SBA PR and Inclusive Form Strategic Alliance to Increase Access to Capital for Smallest Businesses

Pictured after the new SBA Puerto Rico-Inclusive Strategic Alliance Memorandum signing are (L to R) René A. Vargas Martínez, Inclusiv senior program officer; Pablo DeFilippi, CUDE, senior vice president of membership and network engagement; Keyshla Molina, executive director of the Puerto Rico Credit Union Executives Association; and Josue E. Rivera, SBA Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands district director (Submitted photo)

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Inclusiv today entered into a Strategic Alliance Memorandum (SAM) to increase access to credit and capital for small businesses located in underserved areas and enable microenterprise development in Puerto Rico. Both SBA Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands District Director Josué E. Rivera and Inclusiv President and CEO Cathie Mahon signed the SAM on behalf of their organizations.

“Today the SBA and Inclusive join forces to share resources and build capacity in credit union (cooperatives) lending with the goal of increasing access to capital to our smallest businesses and entrepreneurs in underserved communities,” said Director Rivera.

“With this alliance, we are working to incorporate and increase participation of credit unions in SBA’s funding program options of small business owners. Now, more than ever, especially in a post-pandemic environment, adequate and timely capitalization is key to helping small businesses recover, continue to operate and pivot to ensure their success,” Rivera said.

Inclusiv, a national network of 400 mission driven credit unions, and itself a community development financial institution (CDFI), has been working with many of the 125 CDFI-eligible financial cooperatives in Puerto Rico. Inclusiv’s Cathie Mahon said that “Puerto Rico’s financial coops are uniquely positioned to serve the micro and small business community on the island. They operate deep at the local level and have traditionally been a lifeline for those communities, particularly in rural areas.  This strategic alliance with SBA Puerto Rico reinforces Inclusiv’s commitment to developing the capacity of the island’s financial cooperatives to benefit Puerto Ricans not served by the traditional banking system.”

The Small Business Administration (SBA) works with lenders to provide loans to small businesses. The agency doesn’t lend money directly to small business owners. Instead, it sets guidelines for loans made by its partnering lenders, community development organizations and micro-lending institutions. The SBA reduces risk for lenders and makes it easier for them to access capital. That makes it easier for small businesses to get loans.

The scope of the partnership will include providing education on SBA’s programs to the cooperatives in the savings and credit sector and promote their growing participation in SBA programs, with the ultimate goal of increasing access to capital and training resources for underserved communities in Puerto Rico and the small business community in general.

The Strategic Alliance Memorandum (SAM) between SBA Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands District Office and Inclusiv Puerto Rico will be in place for an initial period of two years.

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