Building - and Climbing - the Financial Inclusion Ladder
When she started her construction business three years ago, Bennie was one of the few African-American female-led construction firms in the NYC area. Her business, Bennie Daye Services, provides home improvement and light construction services. By 2013, she had hired ten part-time contract workers and got her Women and Minority Business Enterprise (WMBE) certification. Now, she could bid on larger government contracts. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, New York City had several contracts and was prioritizing working with WMBEs.
Bennie had the experience and the certification the City was looking for. But, as a growing small business, she needed the materials and additional insurance to take on these contracts. She needed all this quickly if she wanted to her company to work on these contracts. Bennie reached out to Accion East and, in two days, was able to get a loan. Bennie said later “that check enabled me to get my insurance and the contract: it changed my life.”
Bennie participated in the Promesa Loan program. The Promesa Loan is a highly flexible financing option designed to reach a wide range of clients. Accion programs like Promesa often serve as the first step to building and strengthening credit, opening the door to a broad range of affordable financial services.
Bennie now has eight employees and has started her degree in architecture. “One of my sons works with me and my youngest daughter is studying photography so she can take photos on my job sites. It’s a great feeling to be their role model.”
Earlier this month, I attended a small business panel discussion on access to capital. Bennie was one of the panelists, telling the audience how her work with Accion put her on this path of success. Bennie now has the financial tools and track record to approach other organizations, accessing programs and resources that only a few years ago, were not available to her.
One of the highlights of any Kiva Fellowship is meeting Kiva borrowers. (The Kiva fellows have written some great posts about this!) After listening to Bennie on the panel and speaking with her afterwards, I was struck by how much had come out of one loan: employment, expansion, and disaster recovery. My fellow staff members all agreed: For Accion, this is exactly the kind of outcome they work towards: helping clients climb up the financial inclusion ladder.
Kiva provides Accion a platform in which they can expand financial services through peer-to-peer lending. Through their partnership with Kiva, Accion provides Promesa loans across the US. As a Kiva Lender, your support helps us reach more US-based businesses like Bennie, promoting economic empowerment through financial inclusion.
Support a Promesa loan today.