SANTA ANA — Executives from about 30 businesses and regional banks met here Wednesday to discuss a new program that will provide small loans to help low-income people start businesses.
The Micro Enterprise Loan Program of Orange County mimics an effort started in Bangladesh in 1976 in which Grameen (Rural) Bank lends to the poorest people in one of the world's poorest nations. President-elect Bill Clinton has cited the program as a model for rebuilding the economies of inner cities in the United States.
In Orange County, the new nonprofit program will provide a 12-week, 16-session course to applicants on how to start and manage a business, said Sumner Williams, the loan program's president and co-founder. Williams, a retired small-business owner and Corona del Mar resident, will coordinate the program with a staff of volunteers from the business community.
A mentor and four program participants will help an individual write a business plan that, when approved by a loan committee, will allow the person to borrow from $50 to $2,000.
"If someone needs $500 for a professional, heavy-duty lawn mower so he can establish his own lawn-maintenance business, we'll provide him with management training and money so that his business aspirations can become a reality," said Gerald DeJong, assistant vice president of Sunwest Bank's Tustin office.
For more information about the program, call (714) 567-7470.