Nonprofit Lender Launches Female-Led SMB Initiative

A Tennessee-based nonprofit lender is teaming up with the Tennessee Small Business Development Center to give female-fronted businesses a new outlet to gain capital.

Pathway Lending announced the Ready.Fund.Grow! program and the new Women’s Business Center, together aimed at providing small business owners and female business owners with greater access to lines of credit.

Pathway Lending, a US Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institution, will also work to connect those Tennessee business owners with training, consulting, and other resources to support the growth of their companies; the lenders will also work with business owners who have not yet launched their operations yet.

According to Pathway Lending Senior Vice President Amy Bunton, launching the Ready.Fund.Grow! initiative and the Women’s Business center was an opportunity met with eagerness. “When the SBA [Small Business Advice] put out a notification asking if there were any nonprofit organizations that wanted to participate in the Women’s Business Center program, we did a very quick proposal and not even 60 days later, were provided notification that we would receive the designation,” she said.

Bunton is currently acting as interim director for the Women’s Business Center, reports say. She notes that the center will also work with private sector companies to offer customized training.

“For instance, there’s a lot of assistance out there for exporting, and that’s a great diversification strategy for Tennessee businesses,” Bunton said, adding that this month the center will hold a conference with businesswomen to meet and talk with experts currently exporting oversees. “In those one-on-one conversations, they’ll get a personal touch and some mentoring that’s not available right now.”

The Ready.Fund.Grow! initiative will focus on all business sectors for training and loans in cooperation with the Tennessee Small Business Development Centers. Loan applications will be financed through Pathway Lending, and the TSBDC will work with those applicants to develop loan packages.

Reports say applicants can be approved for up to $100,000 in capital used for machinery, supplies, accounts receive and purchase-order financing.