Microlender Accion Texas Rebrands to LiftFund

on 14 January, 2015 at 13:39

Accion Texas revealed its new name and logo Wednesday morning. The nation’s largest nonprofit small business microlender is now LiftFund.

The mission to provide small loans to underserved individuals and businesses has expanded to 20 different offices operating in eight states – the new name reflects that LiftFund is no longer associated with just one state.

“The difference between then and now is that we are able to work with small business owners in whatever business cycle they are in,” said LiftFund President and CEO Janie Barrera (pictured above), pointing out that LiftFund loans range from $500 to $250,000.

“For the past 20 years we have lifted people with limited access to capital and provided an opportunity to fulfill their dreams. We have combined two words to foster a stronger sense of what we do everyday.”

The word “fund” on the logo is literally lifted up and is accompanied by the tag line, “Dream it. Fund it.” LiftFund hired San Antonio-based Atkins Group for its new brand and local designer Josué Zapata for the logo design.

“(LiftFund) is more than a new name, it is a launch into a new role, separate from Accion International,” said former mayor and CityView Chairman Henry Cisneros. “This entity will have its own momentum, its own drive, right out of San Antonio. We have a good history of building national organizations out of here … we’re going to watch Janie do exactly the same thing with this entity nationally.”

He lauded her accomplishment of bringing LiftFund from a three-person operation to the 318-employee network it is today by bringing professionalism, honesty, and understanding to how microlending works on a ground level. To date, Barrera and her team have dispersed a total of $173,787,508 in loans.

“(Barrera has) the ability to wonderfully create that balance that is the beauty of our system,” Cisneros said. “On the one hand, we know we need the skills of business and professionalism. On the other, we need a big heart to reach deep into the community.”

The nonprofit took its name from Accion U.S. Network when it was founded in 1994. In the beginning, LiftFund typically issued loans in the $25,000 range. Now it issues $250,000 on a regular basis. It has also worked with the Small Business Administration 504 Program to issue up to $5.5 million in loans in Texas.

The credit score cutoff to secure a loan from a traditional, major bank is 680. LiftFund serves people with an average credit score of 580, Barrera said – people who are seen by major banks as very likely to default on their loan repayment.  However, LiftFund maintained a 97% payback rate in 2014 while serving more than 3,000 borrowers.