Citi Community Development and the Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) recently announced a substantial contribution to help small businesses in the District of Columbia access microloans to support business expansion, income growth, and job creation. LEDC's successful micro-lending program provides alternative financing to small businesses, the most important engines of economic growth in the District. Citi's $500,000 commitment will enable LEDC to expand its micro-lending program and increase lending to small businesses by nearly 50 percent over the next year.
With the unemployment rate in Washington, DC at 10.4 percent (compared to 8.3 percent nationally) and 34,800 District residents seeking jobs but unable to find them, LEDC's microlending program provides much-needed capital and other resources to small businesses. "We are greatly appreciative to private companies like Citi and nonprofit partners such as the LEDC for their work with local small businesses," said Washington, DC Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development Victor L. Hoskins. "This city cannot achieve its goals of increased opportunities for entrepreneurs and job-seekers with public-only initiatives and we are pleased that our local small business owners now have enhanced opportunities to access capital because of Citi's investment."
As the economic slowdown persists and more people turn to self-employment as a primary way to support themselves, LEDC has seen a marked increase in the demand for its small business development and microlending services. "Citi's generous contribution is the largest single private gift in LEDC's 20-year history and demonstrates how the private sector and community-based nonprofits can work together to strengthen support for aspiring entrepreneurs," said LEDC Executive Director Manny Hidalgo.
With an average loan size of $10,000, Citi's contribution will enable LEDC to make approximately 40 loans in the District in 2012. LEDC will leverage these funds to seek additional support in pursuing its goal of tripling the amount it will loan to small businesses in the Washington region in five years to approximately $2.16 million, including $650,000 for DC small businesses. "Small businesses provide the greatest opportunity for job creation and they are vitally important to the stability and growth of a community and a local economy," said Bob Annibale, Citi Global Director of Community Development and Microfinance. "Citi is committed to working with leading community partners, such as LEDC, and local officials to provide the resources to support small businesses, strengthen neighborhoods, and create stable jobs."
Citi's support for LEDC is the latest and largest example in a long record of local investment in the greater Washington, DC area. In 2011 alone, Citi and the Citi Foundation together committed more than $700,000 to support programs and partners involved in neighborhood revitalization, small business development, financial capability-building, and other initiatives.