Providence Revolving Fund provides a financial key to reopening businesse

MAPPING IT OUT: From left, Ricky Bernard, co-owner of Island House Restaurant; Providence Revolving Fund Executive Director Carrie Zaslow; and Project Manager Thomas D’Ovidio go over a map outside of Bernard’s establishment.  / PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
MAPPING IT OUT: From left, Ricky Bernard, co-owner of Island House Restaurant; Providence Revolving Fund Executive Director Carrie Zaslow; and Project Manager Thomas D’Ovidio go over a map outside of Bernard’s establishment. / PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY

PBN INNOVATIVE COMPANIES 2020 FINANCIAL

Providence Revolving Fund


Evelyn Guillen couldn’t get either the U.S. Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program or Economic Injury Disaster Loan when she applied for financial help to comply with COVID-19 reopening protocols for her health insurance consulting businesses on Broad Street in Providence.

Credit a new Providence Revolving Fund initiative for helping mirco business entrepreneurs such as Guillen reemerge from pandemic lockdowns. Launched in June, the Commercial Corridor Micro-Business Loan Fund provides between $500 and $5,000 to help with reopening costs necessary to comply with public health mandates.

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Guillen is one of nine women-owned enterprises in and around Broad Street, Cranston Street, Elmwood Avenue, Broadway and Westminster Street receiving microloans this summer. Most like Guillen’s, a Black Latina, are minority-owned.

“This microloan was a blessing at a time I needed it most,” said Guillen, who borrowed $4,500 to redesign her office with dividers and hand sanitizer and water stations.

A massage therapy practice used its loan to convert a single therapy room into two, so one could be cleaned while the other was in use. A Jamaican restaurant purchased outdoor tables and chairs and launched a mobile app to improve the system for takeout orders.

PRF started with $100,000 that the Providence City Council matched. Customers Bank contributed another $5,000 for a total of $205,000. Borrowers receive technical assistance from the Center for Women & Enterprise and the Center for Southeast Asians.

It all came together within one month, an almost unheard of timeframe for putting together a loan program, PRF Executive Director Carrie Zaslow said. “We knew this was what we are built to do.”

Qualifying businesses must have fewer than 10 employees and annual earnings under $250,000. Borrowers can choose a 0% interest rate or 2% with first payment due in six months. Zaslow said most recipients chose the 2% rate. The loans have a 24-month term.

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