Mayor de Blasio launches new program to promote credit building for low income and immigrant women entrepreneurs

As part of the City’s Women Entrepreneurs (WE NYC) initiative, the first of its kind program in the U.S. to address the gender gap in entrepreneurship, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen and the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Gregg Bishop announced the launch of “WE Master Money: Credit,” which will provide credit-building workshops and one-on-one counselling to 1,000 women annually for the next two years. “WE Master Money: Credit” is the first of three tailored business education offerings developed as part of the City’s WE NYC commitment to empowering women business owners to reach their full economic potential, with a special focus on supporting underserved women and communities.

The curriculum for “WE Master Money: Credit” was developed by SBS in partnership with micro-lender Grameen America and financial education provider Ariva, with support from Citi Community Development. The program focuses on how a woman’s personal credit impacts her business- specifically stressing the importance of good credit, the effects of poor credit, and how to access and read credit reports, as well as how to avoid predatory schemes and products.

The “WE Master Money: Credit” courses are currently being offered in in Spanish, English and French courses available later this summer. Courses will be offered in the Bronx and Queens at no cost to participants, incorporating both group sessions and one-on-one financial counseling. The curriculum will empower women to proactively take the necessary steps to strengthen their credit and build successful businesses.

Research released by SBS and Citi Community Development on the state of women’s entrepreneurship in New York City highlighted that loan rejection based on poor credit ratings or thin/nonexistent credit files is common for many low income and immigrant women entrepreneurs. Facing these barriers, most women entrepreneurs – 90 percent of those surveyed – are obligated to use personal savings to account for 70 percent or more of their start-up capital. Credit-building services will help these women establish and understand how to better manage credit and access more loans many of which depend on business history, personal credit, or both.

“Without money a woman entrepreneur can’t grow her business, and without a good credit history she can’t access the money she needs. Understanding credit and learning money management are pivotal for the growth and success of our NYC women entrepreneurs. Culture plays a big role in the way our women entrepreneurs deal with money and language barriers often prevent them from accessing the necessary financial education and information. It is important to teach our immigrant women entrepreneurs, money and credit management if we want them to grow and be successful in business. ‘We Master Money: Credit’ is such a necessary tool! I am extremely pleased that is going to be available in different languages making it accessible to so many of our immigrant women entrepreneurs,” said Quenia Abreu President of New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

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Photo credit: Mayor’s Office