3 T’s to Support Small Business with PPP
The Raza Development Fund’s Small Business Initiatives (SBI) team members approach their work with passion and a lot of heart to support our clients. When the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and subsequent extensions, our team jumped into action to support small business owners through the entire loan process from application to possible loan forgiveness. Throughout the months, our team has grown to be ready and able to provide as much assistance to our clients as needed. It is truly a labor of love and requires us to understand the needs of each small business. The key to offering support is navigating the 3 T’s: Trust, Time and Technology.
The most important step is to gain the client’s trust. The loan application is written in technical language that can be difficult for many to understand. It also requires providing detailed personal information such as bank statements and taxes. This can be intimidating or confusing for many of our clients, so it’s important for them to feel like they can trust us to help guide them through the process.
We take the time to listen and hear their concerns. We share the mission of RDF, what we do and why we do it to help our customer know and understand who they are working with on the PPP loan process. We explain the requirements in everyday language. And of course, we have a fully bilingual team to speak to the client in their preferred language.
When working with clients directly, I often share my personal journey with RDF. I’ve been a part of the RDF team since the inception of the organization, over 20 years ago. This helps them learn more about me and my commitment to serving the community.
The deadline for the program was scheduled for May 31, 2021, or until funds run out. On May 4, the SBA noted the funds were exhausted. However, there is still money set aside for community financial institutions like RDF to process applications. Once those funds run out, the program officially ends, and we will stop taking applications. Time of course, is of the essence.
The application process also takes time. Clients may not be able to turn around documentation quickly due to their own schedule constraints, such as operating their business. Clients need to gather required documents and fill out applications, which for some may take longer than others.
Our team is flexible with our schedules to accommodate clients and often results in helping them after hours or sometimes on weekends. If there is a problem, we follow up on a question or an issue on the application until it gets resolved.
From program deadlines to a detailed process, these can add stress to the client and their business, but our team works hard to see their application through to the finish line.
To ensure everyone stays safe during the pandemic, we connect with clients over Zoom video chats. We provide Zoom training and teach clients how to use the platform and connect their audio and video. We talk them through how to text photos or attach documents to emails. Additionally, we help create excel templates for clients to include information for required addendums to their applications.
While we are always willing to teach and guide, sometimes clients simply are uncomfortable with the technology. And we understand!
In March of 2021, we opened a pop-up office in South Phoenix, 6427 S. Central Ave, Ste. 100. On Monday, Wednesday, and Thursdays from 9am – 4pm. Clients can drop by to copy or scan their documents, receive general information about PPP, or make an appointment for a PPP interview.
We truly guide clients on every step of the PPP loan application process and we do it because we care about the small business community. These loans allow many small businesses to keep their doors open and provide for their families, that is what motivates us. We’ve experienced growth and a lot of change this past year, but we always come together to push for our clients.
To date, RDF has received approval from the Small Business Administration for $5.6 million on over 300 PPP loans, for micro and small businesses across the nation.
I am very proud of the Small Business Initiative team and the entire RDF Family who have stepped up to help put our best foot forward and support small businesses through this difficult time.
We are still accepting applications at https://bit.ly/PPPbyRDF.