[caption id="attachment_230361" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Del-One Federal Credit Union and the Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce create a new loan program for minority- and women-owned businesses | DBT FILE PHOTO[/caption]
DOVER – Del-One Federal Credit Union, the largest credit union in the state, is teaming up with the Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce (DEBCC) to give minority- and women-owned businesses a fair shot at securing loans.DEBCC Founder and President Ayanna Khan worked with Del-One FCU to create the MDE Loan Program, which went live on Jan. 1. It is geared to offer loans to women and minority business owners that may not qualify for a traditional business loan.“There are minorities that cannot walk into a bank and get a loan,” Khan told the Delaware Business Times. “This is specifically for them. They can walk into the Del-One branch and they will feel seen and heard.”Del-One FCU committed $1 million to jumpstart the program. John Chartrand, chief lending officer at Del-One, said the credit union’s aim is always to assist the “under-resourced” members of the community.“We are a part of this bank desert initiative in the Del. Route 9 corridor,” Chartrand said. “We had already developed a micro-loan program, which is up to $10,000 for startup businesses. And we were like, what else can we do?”Del-One FCU leaders sat down with Khan to brainstorm a way to assist minority-owned small businesses that often cannot take out normal loans due to the existing racial wealth gap.Discussions had been going on for over a year, Khan said, and it all clicked one day when they met at lunch and both sides felt prepared to develop a program. Chartrand said Del-One felt confident in “mitigating any associated credit risk” that may come with the program.Once Khan heard how enthusiastic Del-One was about partnering with the chamber, she knew she had found the right partnership.“That was like music to my ears,” Khan said. “It was just a perfect relationship from day one because they listen and they always want to come up with a solution.”In order to be eligible for the loan program, businesses must be members of the DEBCC, have no more than 30 employees and receive approval from both the DEBCC and Del-One FCU.Both the chamber and Del-One will vet businesses applying for a loan and confirm eligibility.Chartrand said he expects the commercial loans offered by the program to be in the range of $10,000 to $100,000 for business assets such as commercial vehicles, trucks, and equipment.“What we’ve come to find is so many small businesses, they want freedom,” Chartrand said. “Some people think it’s about the money, and I think that’s certainly a factor, but I think it’s freedom. The freedom to make their own decisions and choices about their life. We want to help that and we want to grow with that.”Khan, also the president and CEO of Khan Consulting, started the Delaware chapter of the National Black Chamber of Commerce in 2020 to train and educate Black-owned businesses.She sees this new partnership as a great benefit to businesses that are members of the chamber already. Four member businesses are already in the pipeline for the new loan program.“The excitement level is out of this world,” Khan said. “Once everything is signed and locked and loaded, we’re ready to make those announcements and celebrate those businesses for getting loans and actively pursuing a capital to grow to scale. And not a predatory loan, but a loan that’s going to fit their needs.”
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