Officials with Micro-lender ACCION’s announced today (Nov. 30) the opening of two locations in North Little Rock and Helena-West Helena.
ACCION Arkansas, an extension of ACCION Texas Inc., is a non-profit that offers small business loans for entrepreneurs and companies that may have weaker credit scores or other limits to traditional bank loans.
Janie Barrera, president and CEO of ACCION Texas, was in attendance at the North Little Rock grand opening, held at the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce.
She tells Talk Business that her organization works with the U.S. Small Business Administration and other banking outfits to help clients that fit her company’s target profile.
“Our typical customer may only have a credit score in the 575 range,” she said, noting that a traditional bank is typically prohibited from lending to individuals with credit scores below 680.
“In our 17 years in business, we have a 96% repayment rate,” Barrera said.
Barrera said several factors came together to entice the Texas-based micro-lender to enter the Arkansas market. Working with the SBA and an entrepreneurial center serving northeast Arkansas, Barrera said circumstances warranted an Arkansas location. Also, part of a $5 million grant from financial giant Chase Bank helped seed the expansion.
When the announcement was made by ACCION and the Delta Regional Authority in October, the two groups said their partnership was expected to:
• Provide a projected $1.2 million in micro-loans a year to small businesses in Arkansas and the Delta region. ACCION provides up to $50,000 for start-up businesses and up to $250,000 for established enterprises;
• Eliminate the role of third party and non-reputable lenders; and,
• Deliver $100,000 in new loans to Delta small businesses and entrepreneurs per month. This estimate breaks down to approximately 30 to 40 loans per month.
Russell Hampton, a native of Little Rock, will serve as the loan officer for the Little Rock area. He earned a Bachelors of Business Administration in Accounting from Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tenn. He has worked in the mortgage and finance industry for the past six years and has been employed as a mortgage consultant with the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America for the past four years.