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Citi underwrites Rising Tide microfinance exchange

18 January 2013  |  2439 views  |  0 Source: Citi

Leveraging a $150,000 investment from Citi Community Development Fund, Rising Tide Capital-the Jersey City-based New Jersey microbusiness development nonprofit-is creating the Rising Tide Exchange 2.0, a new online platform to streamline the connection between underserved NJ entrepreneurs and appropriate micro-lenders.

The formal announcement of the innovation grant was made as 86 entrepreneurs graduated from Rising Tide Capital's 12-week Community Business Academy. Robert A. (Bob) Annibale, Global Director Citi Microfinance and Community Development, delivered the keynote address.

Rising Tide Capital estimates that 75,000 men and women in New Jersey struggle with financial self-sufficiency because of unemployment, under-employment and the proliferation of low-wage jobs. An estimated 6,400 men and women have turned to entrepreneurship to supplement their incomes but many lack the skills and resources they need to be successful.

Many microbusinesses—those with five employees or less—are struggling to acquire loans. According to Accion, an international microfinance organization, nearly 10.8 million micro-enterprises in the U.S. are not able to acquire loans through traditional means.

"So many of our entrepreneurs cite access to capital as one of their biggest concerns," said Alfa Demmellash, CEO of Rising Tide Capital. "We knew that we needed to get creative, and find a serious partner to help us meet this need. Citi Community Development understands that economic empowerment and job creation depends on financial inclusion."

Said Annibale, "We are excited about the Rising Tide Exchange 2.0 platform, which will speed the connection between qualified borrowers and lenders. Thousands of women, minorities, immigrants and struggling entrepreneurs who traditionally don't have access to capital will benefit from Rising Tide Capital's vision to broaden the availability of micro-lending in New Jersey."

The process of finding the "right match" is daunting for first-time borrowers, noted Demmellash. "The Rising Tide Exchange 2.0 is a clearinghouse for online entrepreneur business profiles which reflect the criteria of multiple micro-lenders. The platform will provide entrepreneurs with choices and micro-lenders with a steady stream of qualified entrepreneurs."

The initial vversion of the Exchange platform was launched in 2012, and was also underwritten by Citi Community Development funding.

To date, Rising Tide Capital has graduated more than 560 entrepreneurs from its 12-week Community Business Academy Program. It also supports more than 300 entrepreneurs yearly with follow-up services through its Business Acceleration Services program.

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