Pedro Zerpa is used to working hard to achieve his goals. An immigrant from Peru, he worked his way up from dishwasher to head chef of a San Francisco restaurant with no formal culinary education. After 15 years as a chef, Pedro was ready to strike out on his own, and found a space in San Mateo that he was able to rent with his family’s help. He ran his restaurant, Fusion Peruvian Grill, for 3 years, before realizing how much he could increase his profits by expanding his restaurant into a bar. He obtained the liquor license, but lacked the money to build out a bar area. Due to some past credit problems, Pedro was not eligible for a bank loan, and was referred by the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) to Working Solutions, a nonprofit microlender that works with start-ups and other businesses that do not qualify for traditional financing.
Thanks to the new Microloan Management Services (MMS) system implemented by Working Solutions, Pedro was able to undergo a streamlined process to receive his loan. Until recently, all applicants to Working Solutions were required to present their business plans, projections, and experience for approval in a Loan Committee session, a time-intensive process that could hold up the funding for months. Now that MMS has been implemented, when Working Solutions’ Lending Associate Roberto ran Pedro’s application through the system, Pedro was immediately approved. MMS is a proprietary software developed by CDFI Accion Texas that uses a matrix of criteria — from credit scores to industry experience and historical revenue— to determine whether a client should receive immediate approval or whether more information and consideration is necessary.
In Pedro’s case, his long career in the industry and his restaurant’s profitability outweighed his credit issues, and he had his loan check in hand just 9 days after MMS approved him. “Nothing is easy in this life,” says Pedro about the arc of his career in the restaurant industry. But thanks to MMS and the Working Solutions Lending Team, getting the money to improve his restaurant was—he’s now opened his bar and is using the profits his restaurant is earning to put his son through culinary school. “Nobody can say you can’t do it,” says Pedro of his success—a sentiment Working Solutions definitely shares.
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