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In D.C., Low-Income Entrepreneurs Find Support Through Grant Awards And Financial Literacy Program


United Bank awarded a $12K grant to Life Asset, a nonprofit that funds entrepreneurs in and around Washington, D.C. 

The grant will support small-business growth and allow Life Asset to leverage an $83K loan from the Small Business Administration. This is expected to help more than 80 low-income entrepreneurs access capital to start or expand a small business in 2018. Unemployed members of the community make up 55% of Life Asset’s client base, while single mothers represent 30% and seniors make up 23%. People with disabilities and the homeless represent 12% and 13% of clients, respectively. 

“United recognizes the importance of thriving communities,” United Bank Managing Director of Community Development and Nonprofit Banking Joseph LeMense said. “We build strong relationships with organizations that support the sustainability and vitality of the communities we serve. Being actively involved in local economic development is not only essential, but also leads to opportunities to offer professional assistance or financing for projects that will catalyze positive change in the Adams Morgan area and throughout our entire D.C. footprint.”

In 2012, the bank provided conventional financing to renovate Life Asset’s Adams Morgan office space. United made a commitment to help further Life Asset’s mission of providing microloans and training, creating jobs and self-sufficiency through business ownership for small businesses that might not find loans elsewhere. 

United Bank conducts a "lunch and learn"

United Bank also launched a financial literacy “lunch and learn” series, which explores topics around how to transition from an initial microloan to a larger, conventional business loan. Attendees can learn how to prepare themselves and their businesses for the next growth milestone. Through these programs, United Bank will increase access to opportunities in local communities and enable Life Asset’s entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to life.

A recent Life Asset loan of $1,500 helped one woman develop a game to teach children about African history, geography and culture.

Three years later, she is selling her games at the Smithsonian and 15 other locations nationally and internationally. She is on her way to paying off her fourth Life Asset loan and preparing to apply for a conventional business loan to further support her growing enterprise. 

"United Bank has been a strong supporter of our mission to deliver financial services to the underbanked, providing grant support and advice, as well as financing to renovate our first office space,” Life Asset founder and Executive Director Markus Larsson said. “Thanks to United Bank's support, Life Asset will continue to provide microloans and training to entrepreneurs in our communities who would otherwise not initially qualify for a conventional business loan or have access to the training and network of support that they need to ensure their professional and personal success."

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