FROM THE EXEC. DIRECTOR RUDY ESPINOSA AT LURN
LURN Capital – Our work is going well. The last quarter of 215 and the first quarter of 2016 was dedicated to beefing up our internal capacity to do lending. We not only developed a strong set of loan policies and procedures, we also hired a full time associate, a part-time under-writer, and outreach workers to assist us in building a pipeline of entrepreneurs. We’re also hosting orientation workshops a couple of times of month with small groups of entrepreneurs interested in learning more about our micro-finance initiatives. Last week, we closed our 4th loan (to a street vendor who sells gelato ice cream and is interested in expanding her capacity and introducing healthier flavors), and this week we’re working on closing our 5th loan to a family-owned business called Tacos Arabes. They’re locally famous, though they’ve struggled to obtain capital to increase their operation. Our capital will help them purchase an additional truck so they can have two locations instead of one. (They’re dream is to have their own brick and mortar restaurant)
On the micro-equity side, we’ve continued to plow ahead in closing our first equity deal. The legal work required was certainly under-estimated, but our pro-bono legal team is confident that documents like our operating agreements, term sheets, etc. can be templates for future deals. Our first deal, Karina Jimenez from Viva los Cupcakes, just created her own LLC (Dulce Empresas, LLC) that will be the partner in our joint venture. I have a dinner meeting with our second entrepreneur, Oscar Ochoa, this Thursday evening that I hope will conclude with an agreement. I hope that his company, El Machete Chili Sauces, will be our second investment. As we move forward, one thing i’m foreseeing before the year ends is the need for more capital to lend and invest. I plan on beginning to “fundraise” in this respect later this summer with financial institutions and other intermediaries who may be able to provide Program-Related Investments or other low-cost debt so we can get it out to people.
Lastly, COMPRA Foods, our purchasing cooperative is doing well. We were able to leverage support from donors like the Oscar Mayer Foundation to receive additional resources from the Ahmanson Foundation so we can purchase a van. This will double our capacity to deliver produce to small, community stores that buy from us. We also just sealed a partnership with another community-based organization who is going to help us recruit an additional 20 stores to our roster of 12.