Ac­cion hires new devel­op­ment of­fi­cer

Imperial Valley Press - - BUSINESS - BY JULIO MO­RALES Staff Writer

EL CENTRO — Non­profit mi­crolen­der Ac­cion re­cently an­nounced the hir­ing of its new busi­ness devel­op­ment of­fi­cer, Larisa Vega, who brings a wealth of fi­nan­cial sec­tor ex­pe­ri­ence and con­tacts within the busi­ness com­mu­nity to her new role.

Vega, of El Centro, has been at the helm of the San Diego-based non­profit’s lo­cal of­fice since July, and works one-on-one with would-be and ex­ist­ing busi­ness own­ers in­ter­ested in ap­ply­ing for a loan, which range from $350 to $75,000.

Vega will also help man­age lo­cal busi­ness devel­op­ment ef­forts, lead busi­ness-re­lated work­shops and build and strengthen part­ner­ships to in­crease Ac­cion’s im­pact in the re­gion.

“We are very for­tu­nate to have a great re­la­tion­ship with lo­cal fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions,” Vega said. “They ac­tu­ally send us quite a num­ber of re­fer­rals.”

Prior to join­ing Ac­cion, Vega had worked for four years with First Im­pe­rial Credit Union, man­ag­ing the credit union’s satel­lite branch at Im­pe­rial Val­ley Col­lege, as well as work­ing with FICU’s mar­ket­ing and busi­ness devel­op­ment de­part­ment.

Ac­cion pro­vides low-in­ter­est loans for smaller busi­nesses that may not nec­es­sar­ily need a large amount of cap­i­tal to launch or ex­pand.

Since hav­ing ex­panded its ser­vices to the Val­ley in 2015, the non­profit mi­crolen­der has ap­proved 56 loans to lo­cal en­trepreneurs, av­er­ag­ing about $11,000 and to­tal­ing more than $650,000, said Valery Bel­loso, chief strat­egy of­fi­cer.

“We’ve been re­ally pleased with the ac­tiv­ity that we’ve had in the Val­ley,” Bel­loso said.

Vega be­comes the sec­ond in­di­vid­ual to be named busi­ness devel­op­ment of­fi­cer since Ac­cion started of­fer­ing its ser­vices lo­cally.

Her hir­ing re­flects the non­profit’s de­sire to have its lo­cal of­fice staffed by a lo­cal pro­fes­sional who un­der­stands the Val­ley and is a known “go-get­ter,” Bel­loso said.

“We’re very pur­pose­ful in find­ing a team mem­ber that re­ally em­bod­ies the pas­sion for help­ing oth­ers be­come fi­nan­cially sus­tain­able and who be­lieves in the power of small busi­ness,” she said.

Vega re­places Diana Moreno-In­man, who has since been named di­rec­tor of the Im­pe­rial Val­ley Small Busi­ness Devel­op­ment Cen­ter, an en­tity that has also worked closely with Ac­cion since the lat­ter’s ar­rival in the Val­ley.

Vega said she is also looking for­ward to ex­pand­ing on out­reach ef­forts in the com­mu­nity on Ac­cion’s be­half, fur­ther bol­ster­ing its lo­cal ties.

Her com­mit­ment to com­mu­nity ser­vice is also made ev­i­dent by her vol­un­teer­ing as a Court Ap­pointed Spe­cial Ad­vo­cate for ne­glected and abused chil­dren in the court sys­tem to help them find safe and per­ma­nent homes, an Ac­cion press re­lease stated.

“Larisa’s com­mit­ment to mak­ing an im­pact in her lo­cal com­mu­nity through com­pas­sion, fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy and con­nect­ing people with re­sources to meet their needs makes her a great ad­di­tion to our team,” said Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer El­iz­a­beth Schott in a writ­ten state­ment.

Vega’s hir­ing also co­in­cides with re­cent de­vel­op­ments that aim to max­i­mize the non­profit’s ef­fi­ciency, in­clud­ing re­cent in­vest­ments in tech­nol­ogy and ad­di­tional staffing.

A $1 mil­lion grant that Ac­cion was awarded in 2016 from the U.S. De­part­ment of the Trea­sury’s Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Fi­nan­cial In­sti­tu­tions Fund is also ex­pected to be de­ployed as loan cap­i­tal in the four coun­ties Ac­cion ser­vices, which also in­clude San Bernardino and River­side coun­ties, a press re­lease stated.

Typ­i­cal Ac­cion loans help small store­front and ser­vice-based en­trepreneurs in­crease their in­ven­tory, hire em­ploy­ees, pur­chase equip­ment and ma­te­ri­als and pur­sue busi­ness growth op­por­tu­ni­ties. The non­profit also helps its loan re­cip­i­ents build pos­i­tive credit his­tory and en­hance their busi­ness skills through one-on-one tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance.

Gus­tavo Buen­rostro, who re­cently opened his own comic book store, Col­lec­tion Cor­ner in Calex­ico, said he counts him­self as one of Ac­cion’s sat­is­fied clients.

Be­fore start­ing his own ven­ture, Gus­tavo had been an em­ployee at Toys “R” Us for 10 years, where he of­ten helped cus­tomers look for rare and one-of-a-kind items that the big box com­pany could not al­ways pro­vide, a press re­lease stated.

Buen­rostro’s grow­ing col­lec­tion of rare toys and comics ul­ti­mately pro­vided him the op­por­tu­nity of open­ing a spe­cialty store where he could sell and dis­play his ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion. His $10,000 loan from Ac­cion went to­ward li­cens­ing and per­mit­ting fees, store­front im­prove­ments and a point-of-sale sys­tem, a press re­lease stated.

“With­out the fund­ing from Ac­cion, I wouldn’t have been able to open my store­front and bring a new of­fer­ing to comic en­thu­si­asts in Im­pe­rial Val­ley,” Buen­rostro said.

Col­lec­tion Cor­ner is lo­cated at 2451 Rock­wood Av­enue in Calex­ico. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit https://www.face­book.com/Col­lec­tionCorner760/

Vega

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