Posted on: January 1, 2021 Posted by: admin Comments: 0

first_imgChamplain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) announced today the launch of a new program that will provide financial coaching and education, along with access to a secured credit card, to Northwest and Central Vermont-area microentrepreneurs whose credit profiles need strengthening to qualify for business financing.  The program is part of the Asset Building Through Credit pilot program, a research effort by the Aspen Institute that will study a multidimensional approach for building credit and financial opportunities for aspiring low-income entrepreneurs in five markets nationwide.  Central Vermont Community Action Council (CVCAC) will be partnering with CVOEO to provide program services in Central Vermont counties.The overall study is funded by a $750,000 grant from the Citi Foundation to the Aspen Institute’s FIELD (Microenterprise Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning and Dissemination) program, which is making grants to five nonprofit microenterprise organizations including CVOEO to implement the creditbuilding pilot program.  In addition to providing training, technical assistance and a series of ongoing peer learning activities to support the pilot, FIELD will analyze the execution and outcomes of the program in each of the five markets to assess whether financial education and coaching combined with an innovative secured credit card platform can increase credit scores and expand the small businesses of more than 600 low-income entrepreneurs.  FIELD’s evaluation of the program will determine both the effectiveness and scalability of the approach.‘Our strengths in financial coaching and outreach will be complemented by the capacity to offer a secured credit card,’ said Jim White of CVOEO.  ‘Combining education with access to financial tools is an effective approach to expanding financial inclusion.  That’s a goal we share with the Aspen Institute and Citi, and we are pleased to have been selected to implement this program in Vermont.’ “One of the Citi Foundation’s core goals is to increase the number of sustainable microenterprises that generate new income and employment opportunities for low- to moderate-income individuals,’ said Pamela Flaherty, President & CEO of the Citi Foundation. ‘Through our support of the Asset Building Through Credit program, we hope to analyze how community-based intermediaries can advance that goal and drive widespread adoption of new approaches that will allow microentrepreneurs to obtain the financing they need to grow and succeed.’In today’s economy, a good credit score is an important financial asset that allows small business owners to access resources and, in many instances, reduce operating costs. Over the past two years, high U.S. unemployment levels have led to an increase in the number of credit applications from individuals who are motivated to start their own businesses but whose damaged or thin credit histories make it challenging for even community-based nonprofit microlenders to provide loans.  Research has shown that the bestway to expand financial capability and build (or rebuild) an individual’s credit score is to pair appropriate financial products with education and counseling.‘We know from conversations with microenterprise programs across the country that they are seeing increasing numbers of would-be entrepreneurs whose credit histories pose a challenge in building their business,’ said Elaine Edgcomb, Director of the FIELD program at the Aspen Institute.  ‘This pilot will test a new approach that can help these entrepreneurs build their credit and their financial skills, and consequently increase their likelihood of business success.  If successful, we hope this is an approach that many of the other hundreds of microenterprise organizations in the U.S. can offer.’The initiative is based on a successful program led by Justine PETERSEN, a St. Louis-based microlender that has been offering secured cards to its microenterprise clients for almost two years. Citi Microfinance has collaborated with the organization to develop its credit building model and technology platform.  Justine PETERSEN will play a key role in the Aspen Institute’s pilot project by advising CVOEO and CVCAC and the other participating nonprofits on how to use secured cards as a financial coaching and credit building tool.  All five of the local partners participating in this pilot project have longstanding experience in working with entrepreneurs and in providing financial education and credit-building services to low-income individuals.  In addition to CVOEO & CVCAC, they include Latino Economic Development Corporation, Mission Economic Development Agency, Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment andWomen’s Brooklyn Enterprise Center:Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity Inc. (CVOEO) and Central Vermont Community Action: These two Community Action Agencies serving rural Vermont each have over 20 years of experience teaching money management skills to the self-employed. Both agencies offer a wide range of credit- and asset-building services, including group training and individual coaching around credit, matched savings accounts, free tax preparation services, and credit clinics.Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC): LEDC has provided business training and microloans to a largely-Hispanic client base in the Washington DC area (including N. Virginia and Maryland) since 1997. Over the past several years LEDC has embedded credit advising and coaching as a core element of its microenterprise programming, with a strong focus on one-on-one coaching. Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA): San Francisco-based MEDA has worked to assist low-to-moderate income Latino families for build assets since its inception in 1973.  MEDA’s Business Development Program provides comprehensive technical assistance and training services and incorporates financial education with a focus on savings, debt and credit. In 2010, MEDA developed a targeted financial education and credit coaching program that will support its efforts to offer secured cards to its customers.Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE): with a long-standing history serving Pacific Asian and other diverse communities in Los Angeles county, the Business Development Center at PACE was founded in 1994. PACE’s Financial Education and Asset Building Program (FE/AB) has provided a wide variety of training and individual counseling targeted at building credit since 2003. Women’s Brooklyn Enterprise Center (WBEC): Affiliated with the Local Development Corporation of East New York, WBEC has provided entrepreneurial and financial education and technical assistance [to women and minorities in Brooklyn since 1988. In 2002, WBEC began providing one-on-one counseling and financial education in conjunction with its business training. Microenterprises are small businesses requiring $50,000 or less in start-up capital and employing five or fewer people. The entrepreneurs targeted by microenterprise organizations tend to be women, minorities, immigrants, low-income and/or individuals with disabilities.  FIELD has been a leader in conducting research and providing funding aimed at driving innovation in the U.S. microenterprise field since 1998. Additional information about the pilot and the participating organizations is available at: www.fieldus.org/Projects/.html(link is external). Burlington, Vermont, October 14, 2011 ‘‘ Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunitylast_img

Leave a Comment