Christopher Parker, a vice president with Proviso Community Bank, presents information on the bank’s Business Investment Micro Loan Program at Maywood Mayor Nathaniel George Booker’s monthly Business Community Collaborative meeting in April. | Courtesy Mayor Nathaniel George Booker/Facebook
Friday, May 13, 2022 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Small loans to cash-strapped entrepreneurs isn’t a new idea. The concept, widely known as microlending, has been globally popular since at least the Bangladeshi social entrepreneur Mohammaed Yunus founded his Grameen Bank in the 1970s.
Now, however, the concept has landed in Maywood, with the recent launch of the Business Investment Micro Loan Program — the result of a partnership between Proviso Community Bank and the village of Maywood. A branch of the bank is located at 1111 Madison St. in the village.
Christopher Parker, the vice president and director of community banking for Proviso Community Bank, which is a Wintrust Community Bank, said the program came about as a way to fill the critical need for capital facing many small entrepreneurs in Maywood.
“What our research shows is that a lot of businesses need the opportunity to bridge some of the capital shortfalls,” Parker said.
Parker said the program is designed to promote Maywood’s revitalization by providing easy access to a line of credit of up to $250,000. There’s a promotional introductory interest rate of 1.99% for the first 12 months. The program is only for Maywood residents, he said.
“This gets business owners in the door at a very low rate, but it allows them literally to help revitalize Maywood by looking at property improvements and asset purchases,” Parker said, adding that while the maximum loan amount is $250,000, most loans will range between $5,000 to $10,000.
“That goes a long way,” he said. “It provides a cushion that allows small businesses to see some growth.”
Maywood Mayor Nathaniel George Booker said Wintrust launched the program at the village’s monthly Business Community Collaborative meeting held last month.
Ashley Wright, 22, said her mother, Nicole McDuffie, has been teaching her the value of micro loans since she was a young girl.
“She’s taught me the value of saving and opening my own bank account,” Wright said. “And if I do take out a loan, she’s taught me not to take out a big one that I can’t pay back, but to start small and build up.”
McDuffie, the founder and owner of Big Mama Catering Service, which is based in Chicago, said her company, which specializes in southern cuisine, was funded through her savings. She now has bank credit, but she understands how critical access to credit can be for most Black and Brown small business owners.
Nicole McDuffie, the owner of Big Mama Catering Service, shows off her business hoodie during the grand reopening of Cheryl Renee’s Things in Maywood earlier this month. | File
“Access to credit is very important for small businesses, especially for those in Maywood,” said McDuffie, who grew up in Maywood, but currently lives in Chicago.
“When I was a kid, there were a lot of businesses in Maywood,” she said. “Now, they’re no longer here. [Residents] need their own grocery store. A lot of people I know who still live in Maywood come all the way out to the city to shop.”
Tami Yarbrough, the owner of Cheryl Renee’s Things, a boutique located at 846 S. 17th Ave. in Maywood and where Wright works, discovered the Proviso Bank’s Micro Loan program at the grand reopening of her boutique.
Yarbrough said the boutique had relocated across the street and reopened after being closed for five months due to the pandemic.
The small business owner said she also started Cheryl Reenee’s Things with her own savings and could have benefited from having access to credit. Yarbrough said she’s received grants from the federal government and private corporations like Facebook and FedEx, but could use additional capital to promote the new location of her shop.
“I need all of the funds I can get, especially being here in this [new] spot,” Yarbrough said. “I need to do a lot of marketing to get people over here. I want to get more people to come here.”