April 11, 2017
by Yanki Tshering
This month we're very pleased to profile the Women's Enterprise Action Loan Fund (WEALF), a terrific resource for women business owners in New York City. For the past two years, we've been working with WEALF founder and Board member Vicki Weiner, serving as WEALF'S fiscal agent.
WEALF, which fills a niche for women who cannot obtain financing for their businesses from traditional sources, also provides the women entrepreneurs it helps financially with one-on-one mentors to help them take their businesses to the next level.
We recently asked Vicki Weiner (shown on the right with Grace Tappin, a WEALF client) a series of questions about WEALF and its role:
What inspired you to start WEALF?
The economy in New York was in a downturn and I wanted to help. I had a business that specialized in investor relations, so I was already mentoring young people who were mostly women. I have two daughters and I have mentored many of their friends. I saw that, for women and businesses without a credit rating or guarantor, it was almost impossible to get a loan. At least one that was not prohibitively expensive. I decided that I wanted to provide money to women-owned businesses to help them grow.
There are a number of lenders in NYC but your program is unique since it combines mentoring. Why do you think mentoring is so critical for a business-owner?
Having access to money is important, but even more critical to success is knowing how to use it to achieve ones goals. We find that most of the women we work with are very skilled in their profession but lack general business knowledge. In addition, they don't have a network of resources to help them navigate through the maze to growth. We provide emotional support as well since being an entrepreneur can be very lonely. Staying close to our participants helps to stay on track and helps us learn what they need. It is a learning process for all of us.
How successful as the mentoring model been?
Our model is producing good results for our mentors as well as our women business owners. Our mentors are dedicated and feel personal satisfaction in helping to change lives. Our participants are learning to maximize their opportunity to become financially self-sufficient. Since inception, our repayment rate has been over 95%, which means the money is re-circulated to other women who need assistance.
To learn more about WEALF, please click here.