December 2nd, 2021 – Ascendus was proud to participate in the RISE Miami-Dade Loan Program for small businesses, offering loans up to $30,000 at a fixed rate of 3.25%. The RISE Miami-Dade Fund focused on helping small businesses in Miami-Dade County (MDC) to begin the recovery stage of economic activity through low interest rate loans.
As the COVID-19 pandemic put considerable economic pressure on small business owners everywhere, Miami-Dade County faced challenges of its own. The downturn quickly exposed shortcomings in the financial system for the metro area’s smallest businesses, which make up 80% of local enterprises.
Even under normal circumstances, these smaller businesses – especially those that are Black- and Latinx-owned – faced historic challenges to accessing capital compared to larger enterprises, and this dynamic showed no signs of abatement during a historic pandemic. Simply put, those who needed the most support were getting the least.
At this critical juncture, leaders and innovators in Miami’s community development sphere intervened. Private, public, and nonprofit sector institutions came together to create RISE Miami-Dade, a lending consortium designed to address these gaps. The coalition included top achievers in the local market, including the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners, Citi Foundation, the Miami Foundation, Dade County Federal Credit Union, and a network of South Florida’s leading community development financial institution (CDFIs), including Ascendus.
Designed to invest in long-term recovery liquidity for Miami’s most disadvantaged entrepreneurs, RISE kicked off an explosion of lending activity during its initial run, which closed in January 2021. The program put $20 million in low-cost loans in the hands of 900 Miami businesses, investing the survival of critical jobs, goods and services. Of that total, Ascendus lent $4.6 million, or 24% – far exceeding our previous records for dollars lent in Florida statewide, let alone in Miami. RISE loan recipients displayed the following characteristics:
- Only 12% had received technical assistance support like financial counseling within the last two years. That means 88% are drastically underserved by the existing educational resources available in Miami, leading to risks to business sustainability.
- Over 75% were entrepreneurs of color, belonging to racial and ethnic groups that have been historically excluded from accessing mainstream financial services.
- 39% were women, a group that has faced unique challenges during COVID-19 rooted in traditional gender-based family caretaking roles.
More results data and insights can be found in a recent report on the consortium’s success.
Ascendus is proud of these results, but clear-eyed about what the future holds. With job and wage growth stalled, vaccination rates slowing, and COVID variants like Delta precipitating successive outbreaks, it’s clear the recession isn’t going anywhere. The RISE program is embarking on a new fundraising campaign with the goal of netting $100 million to continue the program.
Contact Michaeljohn Green at [email protected] or 305-412-6117 if you’d like to partner on this essential program – the Miami economy is on the line.
Ascendus believes in the bold vision of creating financial ascension for those who have been systemically excluded from financial opportunity. For over 30 years, we’ve provided small business owners – primarily BIPOC, women and immigrants – with the tools to move up, improve their lives, care for their families, and contribute to their communities. We’ve placed over $200 million into the hands of 24,000 small businesses through our programs in New York, Massachusetts, Florida and nationally. Our history includes a long track record as an economic first responder in times of disaster, dating back to the September 11th attacks in downtown Manhattan, and continuing through Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Hurricane Irma in 2017, and most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. More at ascendus.org.