PROVIDENCE – The Capital Good Fund, a financial empowerment nonprofit based in Providence, has made its 100th loan to a low-income Rhode Islander after two years of operation.
The fund, which says it is one of the fastest-growing microlenders in the nation, was founded in January 2009 by Brown University students led by Mollie West and Andy Posner.
Capital Good Fund now has four full-time employees and 14 student interns from Brown, Providence College, Bryant University, Johnson and Wales University and the University of Rhode Island.
In addition to having made 100 loans totaling more than $121,000, Capital Good Fund has also graduated 80 participants through its Exploring Business Basics workshop and prepared 26 free tax returns through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
The 100th loan, a business loan of $3,600, went to Damon Fowlkes, an East Providence resident with a snow removal and landscaping business called Helping Hands. Fowlkes started with a $2,000 loan just over a year ago, which he used to purchase essential supplies and a used van. The new loan will be used for additional tools and equipment.
Fowlkes also graduated from the Capital Good Fund’s business-basics class and received financial coaching. His credit score has jumped from “unscoreable” to 640 in a year, the fund said.
“Capital Good Fund gave me a chance when no one else would,” Fowlkes said. “Not only did they help me learn how to better run my business, but they gave me a loan with no collateral, so that I could take Helping Hands to the next level. Over the last year they have become like family to me: always there to help me out, give me advice and so on. I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t met them, but I am truly thankful that I did.”
“This milestone marks a turning point for the organization,” said Andy Posner, executive director of Capital Good Fund. “After years of hard work and experimentation in providing equitable financial services to the poor, we believe that we have hit upon a suite of products and services that has transformative impact. We hope to serve not only our borrowers and their families, but also the Rhode Island and national economies. Combining financial coaching with small loans – ranging from $200-$5,000 – is a powerful tool for changing lives. In our first 100 loans we’ve been honored to work with hard-working immigrants, determined single parents, and inspiring formerly incarcerated men and women, and we look forward to the next hundred.”