Starting and sustaining a small business is no easy feat, for one community member in particular, being connected to the Nusenda Credit Union Co-Op Capital Loan Program through Partnership for Community Action helped support her family business and build her economic independence. Norma Casas, a mother of two and Albuquerque community member, received a Nusenda Co-op Capital Loan to kickstart off her small family business of transporting materials to local construction companies. The Co-op Capital program offers an approachable route for small business loans in partnership with local nonprofits. Equitable access to capital for underserved community members who might not be able to access traditional loans is pivotal for improving the Albuquerque community.
Through the loan, Casas was able to improve her credit and make a positive impact on the local community. Casas connected with Partnerships for Community Action through the Abriendo Puertas/ Opening Doors parenting classes. Through her relationship with PCA, she was able to initially receive small loans to start renovating her house to become a home-based child care provider. Casas learned how to start making monthly on time payments and started renewing her credit score. After receiving smaller loans, she was able to qualify for the Nusenda Co-op Capital Loan where she was able to put the down payment on a truck to transport construction materials to local companies. Casas explains that having good credit allowed her to invest in her home and business projects. She also shared that with her improved credit, she could “buy a trailer, because without that we wouldn’t be able to start our business.” Casas’ goal is to be able to receive loans directly from the bank in the near future. This program provided her with the credit and financial expertise to pursue other means of capital independently.
The Nusenda Co-op Capital Loan is a $10,000 is a community circle micro lending program that assists local entrepreneurs start their small businesses.The Co-op Capital program lends based on trusted relationship partner organizations including, Family Independence Initiative, Partnership for Community Action, Cultivating Coders, Native Community Finance, South Valley Economic Development Center, UNM Innovation Academy, and Three Sisters Kitchen. The program has been called “the alternative to the alternatives” as it does not require credit, collateral, or status. Instead, it relies on the community organizations and nonprofits to make the loan applicant decisions based on character, goals, and determination, creating a fair and accessible loan for entrepreneurs
PCA has assisted 29 total loan borrowers including 7 business loans and 22 personal loans adding up to a total of $167,282.05. PCA encourages and assists the loan borrowers through the process. Casas applied for her first loan during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. She explains how Marisela, one of PCA’s team members, “explained the process, she filled out the application, we did it all through zoom. She shared her screen, asked me questions, and with my authorization, she filled it out,” making the process of applying as simple as possible. It is crucial to make loans accessible to systematically disadvantaged community members. In fact, 100% of PCA loan borrowers are of Latino or Hispanic descent and are women.
Casas has been able to improve her family’s financial stability and start her family business with the assistance of the Co-op Capital Loan. She explains that it is important for women to have financial stability, “the woman has the control of the home, but sometimes does not have control over the finances. Usually for women who don’t work, the husband is the one that controls the finances. But independently like women, we can have our own goals and through loans we can build our own credit.” Through community loans like the Co-op Capital program, women can start their own business and become more independent. Casas’ business has been able to positively impact the local Albuquerque community and economy, while also supporting her family. Casas encourages other future entrepreneurs to connect with PCA’s programs and learn about the resources available. “We can start a little bit by little bit and that way it’s a little bit easier to stay consistent. To let the building grow slowly and in that way, it won’t fall.”
Learn more here about the program here.