As a result of these loans, the businesses have created about 100 new jobs in Detroit. The loans range from $5,000 to $50,000 and have been used to rent, rehab or built out spaces, acquire equipment or inventory, or other investments needed to start up and sustain the enterprise.
“My credit was terrible, but ProsperUS was still able to help me out with a loan,” says Craig Grissom, owner of Higher Ground Landscaping and a graduate of the 20-week ProsperUS entrepreneurial training program. “The loan came right on time because I didn’t have any working capital and the money enabled me to repair the trailer, buy equipment and meet payroll.”
Grissom paid off the loan in eight months and then got a second loan from ProsperUS to expand his business. He hires unemployed men from the community, particularly those who are returning citizens, like Grissom himself.
“The ProsperUS lending program is designed to help small businesses overcome the barriers they face in gaining access to the capital they need,” said Hector Hernandez, Executive Director of Southwest Economic Solutions, a subsidiary of Southwest Solutions, and of which ProsperUS is a part. “We are investing not only in the talent and commitment of these Detroit entrepreneurs, but also in the future and vibrancy of the neighborhoods they serve.”
ProsperUS began in 2012. It focuses on five geographies in the city: Cody Rouge and Warrendale, Grandmont Rosedale, Lower East Side, North End and the Central Woodward Corridor, and Southwest Detroit. To date, more than 600 Detroit residents have graduated from the ProsperUS training program, and 93% of the graduates are minorities. ProsperUS has helped develop more than 140 small businesses in the five target neighborhoods.
Imad Morad, and Iraqi immigrant, received a ProsperUS loan for $10,000 in 2014 to purchase an electronics store on the west side. He repaid the loan in two years, and his store, called My Computers and Phones, is profitable.
“I am able to make a good living to support my family,” Imad said. “It has been a long journey for us, but we feel at home. Every day I give thanks for being in America. In this country, you can start from zero, but if you are willing to learn, work hard and apply your skills, you can be successful.”
“ProsperUS has developed a proven model whereby entrepreneurs with strong character and viable business models have access to the resources they need to grow their businesses from ideas to profitable businesses,” said Matthew Bihun, Senior Loan Officer at ProsperUS.
To commemorate reaching the $500,000 lending milestone, ProsperUS commissioned a short video featuring interviews with six small business owners who received loans.