Customized Post Loan Business Assistance (PLBA)

Training and individual consulting to help small businesses and entrepreneurs create and expand new enterprises are essential. Business assistance organizations, such as public and nonprofit technical assistance providers and loan packagers, play a critical role in helping small business owners and entrepreneurs gain access to private capital and become successful.

In conjunction with CEDLI, CARAT offers the Post Loan Business Assistance Program which is a linked lending and technical assistance program. Program details and the process for a borrower are provided in our customer brochure. The purpose of the program is to mitigate risk related to CEDLI's portfolio of co-lending borrowers. The program design contributes to the building of capacity within the technical assistance arena. As indicated in its name, the emphasis is on post loan versus pre-loan business assistance. The strategy employed involved developing a software based financial management tool for use by small business consultants/staf of community-based organizations to ensure consistency in output, predictability in outcome and the delivery of quality services to the business clients. The initial focus of the post loan business assistance is in area of financial management. The program components include researching existing linked technical assistance and lending models, identifying appropriate software applications, training staff of organizations on the use of the software application and the interpretation of the results of the financial analysis. CARAT monitors the quarterly intervention activity between the small business borrower and the post loan consultant and reviews the financial management reports that are generated for the borrower and CEDLI.

Research

In FY 1999, CARAT identified and critiqued existing linked technical assistance and lending programs operated by five community development organizations in California and one national economic development organization. The findings of this research revealed that these organizations employ certain strategies to address lenders' liability, use specific technical business assistance tools, continuously adapt programs, and vary in their individual program designs. A summary report has been compiled profiling the key program components of the models used by these organizations.

Development of Computer Based Business Assistance Tools

Based on the experiences of CEDLI and other community-based lenders, and on feedback from financial institutions and community-based lenders there are two areas of post loan assistance needs that have been identified. These two core services, business assessment and financial management, are needed by post loan clients to remain compliant with loan covenants and to meet their projected operational goals. Business clients also need to reach a comprehensive understanding of their operations as they move through a business assessment. Thereby, we have selected two computer-based software tools one on financial management and one on business assessment. The financial management tool analyzes the business' cash flow, receivables, payables, inventory, etc. The business assessment tool involves a comprehensive evaluation of the business' operations including its strengths and weaknesses. These software tools will be customized to meet the needs of the CEDLI co-lending borrower base.

Training and Professional Staff Development

With the intent of enhancing skills and building capacity of community-based organizations to work more effectively with small business owners, the staff and consultants of the organizations were trained in the use and interpretation of the software tools. The outcome of the program also results in actively positioning these organizations to work with financial institutions and others like CEDLI, as well as, involving them in skills upgrade and professional development. CARAT's role is to continue monitoring quality control and actual application, and identifying qualified organizations that could provide technical assistance.

Benefits

  • Small business clients - the small business owners gained enhanced skills in the financial management of their companies and aid business growth.
  • Financial Institutions - the financial institutions gain a stronger
    customer base
  • Technical assistance providers - the technical assistance organizations
    become more skilled and proficient in their service delivery.