Lendistry Steps Up For Baltimore Small Businesses During COVID-19 Crisis

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When Everett Sands founded Lendistry, he had a mission to help small business owners get the fair, affordable capital they needed to grow. He knew that women and minority business owners were and are still underbanked and needed a lender that was willing to step up and give them the

financial opportunities they deserve. He knew that he could deliver these funds with a combination of state-of-the-art fintech and personal, one-on-one customer service that continues after the loan is closed. He did not know that he was building a lending model that was perfectly suited for a pandemic.

Lendistry has grown fast with its “bring it on” attitude, backed by results. An SBA-approved lender, Lendistry quickly gained attention for its unique combination of agility and accessibility, becoming the number two SBA lender in the nation in 2018.

This week, Lendistry, the mayor of Baltimore, and Goldman Sachs announced a game-changing, rapidresponse collaboration to help Baltimore small businesses and nonprofits get

desperately-needed capital during the COVID-19 crisis. Through its 10,000 Small Businesses program, Goldman Sachs seeded the small business lender with $10 million, which Lendistry will loan to Baltimore small businesses in accordance with the guidelines established by the Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program (PPP). The Small Business Emergency Stimulus Program is specifically focused on minority-owned businesses in low-income areas of Baltimore.

“Our model and our team at Lendistry are made for this. It’s like we’ve been training for this moment all along.” Sands said at the press conference announcing this new program, “We have continuously sought out connections and partnerships between community leaders and major banks like Goldman Sachs, and leveraged those connections through our unique platform to bring small businesses the support they need.”

Even before this program was officially announced, it was already making an impact. Suzanne Razaq was running a tutoring and test prep business Baltimore when COVID-19 brought her operation to a sudden halt. Though she qualified for a PPP loan, her bank was not accepting applications for the program. Lendistry was ready for her, and though she’s still staying home, she says, “The PPP Loan, through Lendistry, will allow me to hit the ground running when the lock-down ends.”

Lendistry is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), which means it’s dedicated to delivering responsible funds to businesses in underserved, low-income areas, because when small businesses grow and thrive, so do their local communities. It also works with its non-profit partner organization, The Center, to provide businesses with ongoing coaching, learning and networking opportunities.

Though it’s California-based, Lendistry and The Center have been active in the Baltimore small business community since well before the coronavirus was a household term. For the past three years, the partner organizations have also hosted six “Access to Capital” events featuring panels of local business owners and financial experts, including $1000 business grants for some of its participants.

Sands saw such potential in Baltimore’s entrepreneurs that he put plans in the works to open a Lendistry location in Charm City. It had already begun providing responsible, affordable loans to Baltimore businesses in collaboration with Baltimore Development Corporation and Baltimore Community Lenders while the process to open a location moved forward, but COVID-19 forced it to pause.

“We had planned to make a big splash in Baltimore this year,” said Sands.

“However, the current crisis has caused us to roll-up our sleeves and get to work in a different way…. we need to make sure no business is overlooked, especially those in lower-income areas and those owned by minorities. Their employees, their customers, their local economies are depending on lenders to step up and do their part.”

Stepping up has been the foundation of Lendistry’s mission from day one.