The team at Boston Builds Credit wants to wish you a happy start to the holiday season! Read on below to catch up on our latest news, learn more about our partners, and find ways to connect with us. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to email our Director, Allison Kroner.
Small Business Support
About the Strategy: Boston Builds Credit is happy to announce a new partnership with the Ujima Project, LISC Boston, a BBC lead partner, and the Ujima project have joined forces to bring on a full-time financial coach dedicated to supporting early stage businesses and entrepreneurs. This financial coach will be a part of the growing ecosystem of technical assistance being built in Boston to help early stage businesses grow and thrive. Small business development is a key asset building strategy, but lack of access to credit continues to be a major barrier to growth. Startup businesses with poor or no credit are a target for predatory lending, especially in the neighborhoods that LISC serves. Many lenders don’t have the capacity to provide the technical assistance often required to build an individual’s credit, and so connecting entrepreneurs with a small business-focused financial coach is a key strategy to help these businesses succeed.
Meet our Small Business Coach:
Jenny Geffrard is a serial entrepreneur, visionary, credit specialist, and money coach whose mission is to help individuals take the stress and shame out of managing their finances. With creative strategies and a holistic approach, her mission is to help those who feel marginalized or forgotten by the financial industry to be seen and treated with dignity. Jenny is trained through the National Financial Educators Council and Credit Consultants Association, and holds a Bachelor's Degree in Community Health & Wellness from Curry College. “Excited does not even begin to capture my feelings in accepting the role of Small Business Alliance Coach! Every desire I have ever written down about a position can be summed up in this role, talk about manifesting your dream role. I am honored to join this work and serve our community.” - Jenny. To connect with Jenny to talk about partnering, you can email her here.
Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation
Services & Approach: Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) provides integrated financial empowerment services to nearly 350 families and small businesses every year. Services include financial coaching (credit building, budgeting, savings, financial goal setting and more); technical assistance to help entrepreneurs open, expand, or stabilize their small businesses; income-building services including job placement, career coaching, and access to benefits; and, when needed, case management to help people overcome crises and instability so they can begin building financial security. All of JPNDC's direct service staff are bilingual in Spanish and English. JPNDC’s approach is based on a fundamental respect for each client’s strengths and goals as they identify them. The organization's role is to offer tools, knowledge, guidance, and support so clients can build on their strengths and move toward their goals. Over the past year, 65 percent of JPNDC's clients were Latinx and 23 percent were African-American. They came from nearly every Boston neighborhood, and one out of five came from outside the city.
Sharing a Client's Success:
The experience of Latisha Scott illustrates JPNDC’s unique competency in helping small business owners build their business as well as their family’s financial health. Latisha, born in Jamaica and raised in Boston, had worked in salons for several years and felt ready to run her own business. She found a salon for sale in Jamaica Plain and applied for a bank loan, but was turned down. She was ready to turn to predatory lenders, who would have provided the funds she needed—at exorbitant interest rates. JPNDC’s strategy was multifaceted. Her JPNDC coach encouraged her to slow down and take the time to develop a path that was sustainable. On the business end, JPNDC facilitated a negotiation with the seller of a 0% loan (that allowed him to work as Latisha’s employee); facilitated a minigrant for professional accounting services; helped her lower business costs; and provided a microloan so she could add new lines of business. A stipulation of the microloan was that Latisha participate in financial coaching, which helped her separate her business and personal finances, reduce her debt, and raise her credit score. Latisha was recently pre-approved for a mortgage, and is on her way to achieving her personal goal of buying her first home.
Latisha Scott working with a client at her salon.
LISC's Small Business Pitch Contest
LISC Boston hosted their 4th Annual Local Founders Stage contest in collaboration with The Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA) and other local partners. Local Founders Stage was created to highlight the innovation that exists within communities of color and allow entrepreneurs the opportunity to showcase their business ideas, get feedback from judges and community participants, and of course compete for a chance to win capital!
This year’s contest was a part of BECMA’s Mass Black Expo that took place over 2 days at the Boston Convention Center. LISC worked with two groups of businesses, an early stage group and growth stage group, and five contestants from each category competed for $20,000 in cash prizes. The funds will be used to help businesses get through any barriers they are facing to their next stage of growth. LISC wants to thank all the participants and give a special congratulations to the 4 prize winners below:
Early Stage competition 1st Place at $3,000 – Love Joy – by Dominique Aubrey Love Joy makes apparel from women with curvy body shapes. 2nd Place at $2,000 – Hapi African Gourmet – Paulette Ngachoko Hapi African Gourmet makes African style ready to eat food products. They currently have two sauces on the market, a peanut sauce and a sunflower sauce, that are great pairings for all categories of grains, vegetables, meat, and fish. Growth Stage Competition 1st Place at $10,000 – Rhyme Antics – Chantel Calloway Rhyme Antics is a vocabulary game inspired by hip-hop for ages 12+. Players engage in a battle of words and wits that tests their vocabulary knowledge at a rapid speed. This game is fun, challenging, and combines a mobile music app with socially interactive gameplay. Rhyme Antics is unique and versatile as it functions as both a party game and classroom game. 2nd Place at $5,000 – Intriguing Hair – Nikia Londy Intriguing Hair sells high quality extensions, hair pieces, and wigs, and has certified hair extension specialists who can work with clients color and install them. Special thanks to Citizens Bank for their continuous support for this work!
Check out the BBC website for a list of upcoming workshops in November and December, including introduction to credit building and financial coaching workshops.
Financial Empowerment Learning Institute
The United Way's Financial Empowerment Learning Institute (FELI) provides free trainings year round on a variety of financial empowerment topics. These trainings are open to staff members of local nonprofit organizations. To join the newsletter and hear about upcoming trainings, please click here.
Next Training: Credit As An Asset
December 18th at the Walker Center, 171 Grove St, Newton, MA 02446
This training covers the basics on credit scores and credit building strategies. This is a great introductory or refresher course! Learn more and register here.
For any general questions about FELI, please contact Director Yaala Muller.
JOBS & VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES:
Passionate about engagement in person and online? Boston Builds Credit is hiring a Communications & Community Engagement Fellow! This fellow will be responsible for developing and executing on a communications strategy for BBC, including managing content for newsletters, social media, and the website. The fellow will also facilitate relationships with community and financial sector partners, focusing especially on the promotion of credit building workshops and capacity building tools available to the field. Lastly, the fellow will provide key administrative support to the BBC team. This is an incredible opportunity for a communications professional interested in putting their skills to work for a cause. LEARN MORE AND APPLY HERE. Passionate about community development? LISC Boston seeks an individual with a passion for strengthening communities to join its highly productive and capable staff as a Senior Program Officer for Economic Opportunity. This position will oversee and manage all income, asset building, entrepreneurship, and economic development activities at Boston LISC. LEARN MORE AND APPLY HERE. Volunteer to help Bostonians with credit and asset building: Volunteer to help Bostonians with credit and asset building:The Boston Tax Help Coalition provides free tax preparation services to over 12,000 people each year, ensuring that Bostonians are able to save money and maximize the impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit. In 2019, the BTHC helped Bostonians realize $7.5 Million earned income credits!
Volunteer recruitment is underway for next year's tax season (January - April). Tax preparers are needed to help file returns and volunteer Financial Guides are needed to provide the Financial Check-Up, a light touch credit counseling session where participants are able to obtain and review a copy of their credit report and receive referrals for a variety of relevant services. No prior experience is necessary. Learn more about volunteering here. Any questions? Contact Volunteer Coordinator Sayyida.
BUILD WITH US:
Interested in building your credit score, or know someone who is? Click here to start today.
Are you a nonprofit looking to build capacity in your financial empowerment programs or provide referrals? Click here to partner with us.
Are you a donor searching for innovative solutions to fund? Click here to donate to Boston Builds Credit.
Are you an employer wanting to help your employees develop their credit? Click here to learn more about providing credit as a workplace benefit.
We love promoting our partners' services, upcoming events, and success stories. Email Allison if you would like to be featured on our website or have your successes and services highlighted in our newsletter!