"To provide affordable lending opportunities and expand access to financial education and other vital community services."

SMALL BUSINESS

The New Orleans metropolitan area has weathered not just the epic Katrina disaster in 2005, but the severe national recession and the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. While these events brought us stories of devastation, frustration and loss, they’ve also given New Orleans another story to tell: one of transformation and recovery through entrepreneurship, cooperation, and determination. Entrepreneurship in the New Orleans metro area continues to expand, reaching 501 business startups per 100,000 adults in the three-year period ending in 2012, a rate that exceeds the nation by 56 percent.

Significant barriers still remain for micro-entrepreneurs and small business owners in the New Orleans area. Access to affordable capital is the most important factor limiting the establishment, expansion, and growth of small businesses, particularly for minority business owners. Most traditional financial institutions in the New Orleans area are unwilling to lend capital unless the loan is secured by collateral and their underwriting criteria typically rules out micro-businesses. Predatory lenders offer easy capital but put business owners at risk by lending at exceedingly high interest rates. There are simply not enough alternative ethical lenders to support the recovery and growth of small and micro-businesses in our area.

As a loan fund which serves almost an entirely minority and low-income client base, ASII’s Micro-Entrepreneurship and Small Business Lending Program is poised to act as a catalyst to help build the city’s middle class. Our lending staff specializes in start-up and emerging small businesses.By expanding the flow of capital to this segment of our community, ASII facilitates job expansion, wealth preservation, and upward economic mobility.

Through the initial funding provided by the State of Louisiana for the Business Grant and Loan Recovery Program, our lending program has served dozens of small businesses in their efforts to recover following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita with low-interest loans ranging from $1,000 to $250,000. We are dedicated to serving small businesses that would otherwise be denied access to credit and capital by traditional financial institutions by providing a holistic analysis of the business owner(s) and the operations of the business. The ASII lending team takes business lending one step further by providing financial coaching to our clients and giving them the tools needed to access credit today and for the life of their business.

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