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CU System
Grant helps small businesses in underserved areas
WINSTON SALEM, N.C. (10/24/08)--To help small businesses revitalize underserved communities, the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) has approved an Innovation Grant of $22,840 to Truliant FCU, based in Winston-Salem, N.C. The grant will help Truliant provide entrepreneuer education, credit counseling, and strategic planning for small business owners in five underserved areas of North Carolina and Virginia.
A staffer from Truliant FCU, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., teach entrepreneurs how to improve their credit scores under an Innovation Grant from the National Credit Union Foundation. (Photo provided by the National Credit Union Foundation)
“Rural entrepreneurs in particular need greater access to equity capital,” observed Truliant Director of Community Services Marjorie Rorie. “Our program aligns with the mission of NCUF to ‘improve consumer financial independence through credit unions,’ by increasing access to loans for low-wealth and rural-based entrepreneurs in underserved communities. "We want to broaden financial options for start-ups and growing businesses," Rorie said, adding, "We will make a concerted effort to provide financial literacy among adults and youths to prepare them better for entrepreneurship.” Rorie learned two important lessons from conducting financial literacy classes that will help refocus the next series for entrepreneurs:
* “We have to make the foundation of every class about ‘how to improve credit scores.’ In one class we conducted, 40 out of 48 potential and current small business owners had credit scores under 600. This is a critical issue. Without good credit, it becomes a struggle to run a business,” Rorie noted. * “We also saw that many small business people have no formal plan on how they should run their business. Often this has led to their seeking unrealistic loan amounts to borrow for their business,” Rorie said.
In a pilot funded by NCUF during the first six months of 2008, Truliant has offered new and existing members a “holistic approach to building financial strength through saving, credit building, account management, and financial education.” Rorie reported that “We have seen success with this pilot, with credit scores rising significantly.” Classes will be delivered in Spanish and English. This is the fourth of 14 Innovation Grants to be approved by NCUF in 2008 (News Now, Oct. 20). The grants are made possible through credit unions' investments in the Community Investment Fund.
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