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Microlending Summit Success

VIVA! Women of Color Symposium in Los Angeles on November 7. Learn more and register. Because it’s at the Federal Reserve, you must pre-register.

In this week’s Must Know:

  • Microlending Summit Success
  • Small Business Saturday
  • The Goodies: information on important opportunities like trainings, funding, scholarship programs. This week’s highlight is the Press Releases from A to Z Webinar that was held last week.

Microlending Summit Success

Leaders from 17 CAMEO microlenders gathered on Tuesday for a spirited and honest conversation about the state of microlending and what is needed to grow the field. Following are a few highlights:

The state of microlending

From 2009 to 2010 CAMEO’s member microlenders, like most banks, spent time examining their portfolios and cleaning them up. Unlike the big banks, microlenders didn’t get a bailout, so they spent much of their time restructuring and repricing their deals. The good news is that most lenders had very low default rates in recent years, the bad news is that they weren’t lending as much as they had in the past – the number of loans made in 2010 was 30% lower than in 2009.

The majority reported that lending has picked up in 2011 and will continue to grow in 2012. However, many new customers are middle class, more experienced business owners, with good credit, who were no longer being served by their banks. Some larger CDFIs are asking themselves the question: should we expand our mission of reaching lower income business owners and distressed communities to serving this new market that needs larger loans- $75-$150K- and lines of credit (LOC) If so, then CDFIs need access to the SBA’s CAPlines program as well as the accounting software to manage LOCs. This software for LOC processing is cost prohibitive for most organizations. If the costs would be shared or big banks could foot the bill, then many CAMEO members expressed interested in offering LOC’s as one way to grow.

Growing the field

Much of the conversation revolved around how to create efficiency in small loan transactions so that they better cover their costs, including the Technical Assistance needed to bring the client to loan readiness. Technical assistance was a hot topic and CAMEO’s research findings raised more questions than answers. Everyone agreed – we need to rename TA so that it better translates to Main Street. The distinction needs to be made between business assistance and credit assistance. CAMEO was asked to develop training for TA providers on core competencies in credit assistance.

Since demand is increasing, so is the need for more low cost, patient capital. CAMEO was asked to create new capital products, perhaps from a corporate sponsor a la Starbucks/OFN. Stay tuned for announcements on some exciting innovations to both increase capital and ramp up lending capacity.

These are just a few highlights of a very rich conversation. In the next few weeks we will develop a document that will outline the key issues and what CAMEO will do to respond. We are excited and inspired by the commitment and enthusiasm of our member microlenders to serve the emerging credit needs of their communities.

Small Business Saturday

First there was Black Friday, then Cyber Monday. Now, Small Business Saturday is an event that drives shoppers to local, independently-owned merchants. Small Business Saturday is a national initiative that marks a day to support the local business that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country – something that CAMEO and its members do every day. Learn how you can get involved and support the national recognition. Check out the small biz stats. Two of our sister organizations, AEO and WIPP (Women Impacting Public Policy), are national sponsors!

The Goodies

New opportunities for trainings, conference information, funding, scholarships, and other information that have crossed our desks since the last Must Know. A running tab of current Goodies is on the CAMEO website.

Free CAMEO Webinar: Last week, we held a very successful Press Releases from A to Z Webinar. If you missed it, you can listen and watch the webinar as well as access other resources.

Free Webinar on Health Insurance Laws: Help your clients understand the new health care reform. Our friends at Small Business Majority recently launched the California Health Coverage Guide in English and Spanish that provides California small business owners with objective, step-by-step information on how to navigate the healthcare market since the passage of national healthcare reform. This webinar for CAMEO members will walk you through the extensive website to help you understand this new tool available to California entrepreneurs. The webinar is Thursday, November 10, 2011 from 10:00-11:00 a.m. Learn more and register.

Federal Reserve Symposium: Addressing Poverty Through Asset Building, Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Burbank Airport Marriott. Learn more and register.

For your clients: CARAT is providing technology training programs for free to small businesses in California. Check out the schedules for October and November.

Capacity Building Grants for Consulting: Three consulting grants are available for Women, Green and General Microenterprise Development through several organizations who are working with Friedman Associates – CAMEO member, Women’s Initiative is one of those organizations. Applications are due at the end of November.

Advocacy Action: CAMEO as a member of the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) has joined the growing number of organizations opposing the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline that would stretch from Alberta, Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. If you would like to oppose the pipeline, ASBC has set up a page to do so in less than a minute.

From U.S.D.A.: The U.S.D.A. presents the U.S. Cluster Mapping Website, a new tool that can assist innovators and small business in creating jobs and spurring regional economic growth. The site provides cluster initiatives and other economic development organizations an opportunity to register in a national database.

From the White House: has a bunch of resources for the disabled who want to be their own boss.

From the Federal Reserve of San Francisco: The SF Fed produced a new volume of Community InvestmentsIncome Inequality’s Impact on Community Development including a piece by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

New Book: Former CAMEO C.E.O, Catherine Marshall, has written a book – Field Building: Your Blueprint for Creating an Effective and Powerful Social Movement. Field Building walks you through the complex tasks associated with launching and building a social movement, and provides the step-by-step guidance to ensure that your effort takes root-and takes off. It also provides real-life examples and points you to further resources you’ll need as you grow your movement. Congratulations Catherine!