March 6, 2019
New program provides up to 250 women entrepreneurs with lines of credit at below-market interest rates
NEW YORK––The de Blasio Administration today launched a new program designed to help women entrepreneurs access affordable lines of credit to start, grow and sustain their businesses. The new program, called WE Credit, will provide up to 250 women entrepreneurs with lines of credit averaging $50,000 at below-market interest rates.
WE Credit is made possible through a public-private partnership between the City, Goldman Sachs, Squarespace and Fundation. Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses will provide $5 million to finance lines of credit to women entrepreneurs. This investment is accompanied by a $1 million loan loss reserve fund provided by Squarespace and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which will cover potential defaults. Fundation, a credit solutions provider, will provide the platform through which women entrepreneurs can access and manage the lines of credit.
“To truly become the fairest big city in America, we need to give everyone an opportunity to participate in our economy – regardless of your gender, race or ethnicity,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “That means breaking down barriers and providing the resources people need to establish, grow and sustain their businesses. With WE Credit, we’re breaking down barriers to capital and ensuring women entrepreneurs aren’t left out of the economic opportunity this city has to offer.”
"Easy access to an affordable line of credit can be the difference between a business thriving or folding. With WE Credit, we are leveling the playing field for women entrepreneurs who historically lack the same support as men to grow their businesses," said Former Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen. "Through our partnership with Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, Squarespace and Fundation, we're building out our portfolio of financial products designed to address the needs of New York City’s women entrepreneurs."
“In order to fulfill a vision of economic democracy for all, we have to make a priority to focus on the financial access and capabilities of segments of the population that are underrepresented in important sectors of our economy,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Phillip Thompson. “Programs like WE Credit that have a particular focus on economic inclusion can significantly boost business creation and expansion for our city’s neediest women entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs. I commend former Deputy Mayor Glen for her tremendous vision in creating this and other programs that have given women across the city a more equal chance to participate and succeed in our economy and I look forward to working with Commissioner Bishop in their implementation.”
“For far too long, women of all backgrounds have notoriously struggled with access to affordable lines of credit” said women.nyc Executive Director Faye Penn. “We are proud to be sparking change in the greatest city in the world through the introduction of WE Credit. Thank you to all of our funding partners for backing such an important program that will uplift female entrepreneurs and give them the resources they need.”
“When building their businesses, women entrepreneurs can face a multitude of barriers that prevent them from accessing capital, forcing them to jeopardize their personal credit or be subjected to predatory lenders,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “WE Credit provides valuable support to women entrepreneurs across the five boroughs by helping them access affordable lines of credit.”
“The launch of WE Credit is integral to our City’s vision to ensure a more equitable marketplace,” said Jonnel Doris, Senior Advisor and Director of the Mayor’s Office of M/WBEs. “An entrepreneur may have the vision and see the opportunity to grow their business, but fundamentally, we know there are barriers, as it all comes down to access to affordable credit. With this program in place, more women entrepreneurs will have the capacity to stay competitive and create more jobs.”
“Despite small businesses serving as a hub for community vitality, economic growth, and quality job creation in neighborhoods across New York, many women entrepreneurs still have difficulty accessing the funding they need to grow their businesses,” said Margaret Anadu, Managing Director and Head of the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group. “Through this partnership, we are proud to expand the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses commitment to ensure local women entrepreneurs have access to the capital they need so that they, and our communities, can succeed. We are excited to play our part in addressing this long-standing challenge.”
According to the City’s Unlocking the Power of Women Entrepreneurs in New York City report, 70 percent of women entrepreneurs cite access to capital as a major challenge when starting and growing their companies. Many entrepreneurs rely on personal credit cards and payday lenders, which lend at interest rates that are more than 30 percent. With the launch of WE Credit, the City and its partners will help women entrepreneurs improve their credit scores and avoid high-interest rates, including those entrepreneurs with limited credit history. Lines of credit will be provided at an Annual Percentage Rate of up to 12 percent, which will be subject to material changes in the market. In addition to providing credit support through the loan loss reserve, the City will help women entrepreneurs through the loan application process.
“Entrepreneurs represent the hustle and grind of New York City and are the backbone of not only Squarespace’s business, but our local communities,” said Anna Stallings, Senior Marketing Manager at Squarespace. “We’re proud to participate in a program that will provide woman-identifying small business owners, a historically under-supported community, with access to the capital they need to succeed.”
"The city should be commended for orchestrating a program that will support an under-served segment of the small business community,” said Sam Graziano, CEO of Fundation. “Federal reserve studies consistently show that the vast majority of small businesses are seeking less than $100,000 of credit. This program may serve as a model that can address that segment of the market at scale."
WE Credit is the fourth WE Fund product under the WE NYC umbrella – others include the recently-launched WE Venture consortium, WE Fund Crowd and WE Fund Growth. WE Venture alone will invest $30 million in women and minority founded tech startups over the next five years. WE Fund Growth has lent over $800,000 to 45 borrowers. WE Fund Crowd has provided more than $1 million in zero-interest loans to women entrepreneurs in partnership with the global crowdfunding platform Kiva.
Through WE Credit, women small business owners with limited experience and credit history will be connected to flexible funding to help them build their businesses. Eligible applicants must have been in business for a minimum of one year and have at least $50,000 in annual revenue.
Council Member Helen Rosenthal said, “As chair of the City Council’s Committee on Women, I am delighted at the news that WE Credit will begin to offer lines of credit to women entrepreneurs, including those with limited credit history. Through the innovative WE NYC partnership, women across our city have a growing number of tools to turn their dreams into reality and contribute to our local economy. I want to thank NYC Small Business Services and the Mayor’s Office for all their efforts to advance women’s financial and social empowerment.”
“WE NYC is a vital program and has helped many women entrepreneurs get information and mentorship to start and grow their businesses,” said Council Member Inez D. Barron. “I am happy to see the launching of WE Credit. It will be a tremendous factor in the success of women in business throughout the city who need affordable lines of credit. The NYC Small Business Services’ leadership and vision in developing pathways to build small businesses makes New York City stronger. We look forward to further expanding opportunities such as this.”
Interested women entrepreneurs can visit we.nyc to learn more. Applications for the program will open this spring.
About WE NYC
WE NYC, launched by the NYC Department of Small Business Services in 2015, delivers tailored, research-based programs for women entrepreneurs to better connect them to the resources, education, and community they need to flourish. WE NYC services are free and open to all women throughout the five boroughs. Since its launch, WE NYC has served over 6,000 women entrepreneurs in NYC. For more information, visit we.nyc.
When women succeed, the Greatest City in the World becomes even greater. women.nyc is a groundbreaking initiative that not only inspires women to advance their careers, but also provides them with the real tools they need for success. From free, expert legal advice, to networking and mentorship, to financial assistance, women.nyc offers a growing portfolio of resources for working women. Join women across the five boroughs, and make your #NYCPowerMove with the help and support of women.nyc.
About the Department of Small Business Services
SBS helps unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building vibrant neighborhoods across the five boroughs. For more information on all SBS services, go to nyc.gov/sbs, call 311, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
About Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses
Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is an investment to help entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing greater access to education, capital and business support services. To date, 10,000 Small Businesses has served over 8,200 small businesses across the United States. The program has reached businesses from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C, and has resulted in immediate and sustained business growth for the alumni of the program. For more, visit https://10ksbapply.com/.
Squarespace empowers millions of dreamers, makers, and doers by providing them with the tools they need to bring their creative ideas to life. On Squarespace’s dynamic all-in-one platform, customers can claim a domain, build a website, sell online, and market a brand. Our suite of products combines cutting-edge design and world-class engineering, making it easier than ever to establish and own your online presence. Founded in 2003, Squarespace’s team of nearly 900 is headquartered in downtown NYC, with offices in Dublin and Portland. For more information, visit www.squarespace.com.
Fundation Group LLC is a credit solutions provider focused on the small business market nationally. Fundation is a leader in providing technology and application processing services to support more than 25 super regional, regional and community banks. Fundation’s solutions enable its financial services clients to develop a digital lending capability, provide a great customer experience, drive cost efficiency into their small business lending program, and maximize the number of customers they can serve. Fundation’s services range from simple referral partnerships to customized, integrated private labeled lending programs. The Company also partners with a wide array of organizations that serve the small business market in various capacities to deliver credit products to the business community nationwide. For more information, please visit www.fundation.com.