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The capital entrepreneurs need to succeed

How this community lender helps small-business owners with the loans, technical assistance and financial counseling they might otherwise not get

Rigid credit scoring systems and strict lending requirements can leave some entrepreneurs on the sidelines. Pathway Capital Funding is aiming to change that in Palm Beach County, Florida. By bringing back the nurturing aspects of the community bank, Pathway Capital Funding is providing small, minority- and women-owned businesses with loans, technical assistance and financial literacy training. “It can be very difficult for the startup businesses we work with to get funding from traditional lenders,” says Pamela Stewart, president of Pathway Capital Funding. “They often need guidance to get through the complex lending process.”

Sixty percent of Pathway’s lending is in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in Palm Beach County, with an emphasis on women- and minority-owned or controlled businesses (the other 40% can be anywhere else in the county). Since launching lending services in October 2022, Pathway has assisted nearly 800 small businesses — representing industries from health and beauty and wellness to restaurants and retail — with education or direct loans.

Just as important as access to capital, Pathway offers newer entrepreneurs educational resources before and after they receive startup funding, including online training courses on subjects like financial statements and cash flow management. A 10-week class on marketing, business plans, credit, financial projections and more prepares entrepreneurs to apply for a loan.

Some owners need more intensive one-on-one counseling before they can even take that step. For example, because a poor personal credit history can be an obstacle to getting funding for a business, Pathway helps entrepreneurs improve their credit scores and negotiate debt repayment plans. “We’ve coupled our lending activities with training to help them deal with these kinds of barriers,” Stewart says. “What we do is intensive hand-holding.”

Bank of America has provided the Palm Beach County Black Business Investment Corporation with funding to establish Pathway Capital Funding and help cover administrative costs. “The support we’ve gotten from Bank of America has been a tremendous asset to us,” Stewart says. “We know that small businesses are an economic engine in terms of providing jobs, and in low- and moderate-income communities, that means keeping and creating jobs right in those neighborhoods.”

From entrepreneur funding and expanding homeownership to professional skills training and healthcare access, Bank of America continues to partner with innovative leaders to help communities implement solutions to society’s important challenges.

1/17/2024