For the second straight year, Nusenda Credit Union has been awarded $250,000 in funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration's Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs (PRIME) program, which aims to help low-income entrepreneurs gain access to capital to establish and expand their small businesses.
Nusenda is the only organization in New Mexico to receive 2019 SBA PRIME funding; only one other organization in the U.S. received the same grant amount. Via Nusenda Foundation's Co-op Capital program, the new round of funding will help continue growth-building and technical assistance for microenterprise development organizations (MDO) that serve business owners in low-income, minority, immigrant, and Native American communities in and around Albuquerque; as well as rural Navajo and Hopi sovereign nations. Additionally, this round of funding will allow Nusenda to establish community-specific baseline data, and to develop data collection, analysis, and reporting tools and processes where little pre-existing data is available; and will allow them to work with borrowers throughout the life of the loan to make successful payments, to communicate any challenges, and to share valuable borrower data and best practices.
Co-op Capital is an award-winning program that widens access to capital to groups that are typically shut out from traditional financial avenues because of lack of collateral, credit, or alternative financing. In 2018, the program was awarded the Louise Herring Philanthropy-in-Action Member Service Award by the Credit Union National Association; the Credit Union National Foundation awarded the Nusenda Foundation its highest honor — the Herb Wegner Memorial Award — in part because of the Co-op Capital program.
“This generous financial support from the Small Business Administration is continued affirmation that our Co-op Capital program is on task to help New Mexico's entrepreneurs who face barrier after barrier in securing capital to start or expand their businesses,” said Robin Brulé, executive director of the Nusenda Foundation and chief community engagement officer at Nusenda Credit Union.
The Co-op Capital program began with La Montañita Co-op seven years ago, which provided capital to its small, local grocery product suppliers. To date, the Co-op Capital program has expanded to work with 14 local community organizations, providing more than $1.2 million in low-interest capital to more than 576 borrowers. The average loan is about $3,522 — and the default rate is 1%, compared to the industry average of 2%.
“This innovative ‘alternative to the alternative' lending model is showing great success with organizations like Three Sisters Kitchen, Partnership for Community Action, South Valley Economic Development Center, the Street Food Institute, and others,” Brulé added. “It is truly amazing to watch these businesses and entrepreneurs grow and flourish — and we are eager to take this program to the next level, thanks to this funding.”
“The Albuquerque Community Foundation invested in Nusenda's Co-op Capital program because it fills a very well-defined gap in any ecosystem — access to affordable capital for those who would otherwise be unable to access it,” said Kelli Cooper, ACF vice president. “The program is putting money in the hands of people with no credit and no collateral, helping them to reposition themselves for a better economic future.”
“Our collaboration with Nusenda Credit Union has allowed members of our community to access loans that are affordable and fair,” said Partnership for Community Action Executive Director Javier Martinez. “To date, we've made loans totaling more than $50,000 — money that families are reinvesting directly into their communities.”