By Guy Page
The Vermont Community Loan Fund, whose thousands of investors and contributors include the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, has created a zero-interest loan fund specifically for BIPOC Vermonters.
“The Justice Forward Fund provides zero-3% interest rate loans and free-to-the-borrower business development services. The JFF serves Vermonters traditionally, systemically and generationally excluded from financial markets and services, including BIPOC Vermonters and New Americans,” Marketing Manager Anne Loecher said in a VCLF statement today.
“The ‘wealth gap’ between White Americans and People of Color in America is widely documented. Throughout our nation’s history, People of Color have seen their assets taken or withheld, and their communities abandoned and excluded from building wealth,” said VCLF Executive Director Will Belongia. “The wealth gap is a statistic that documents that legacy of extraction and exclusion. In designing the JFF, we wanted to do everything we could to keep borrower costs low, or non-existent.”
The Justice Forward Fund will seek to eliminate many of the most common barriers to capital access. The JFF features the following unique characteristics that differentiate it from other VCLF loan programs:
- A streamlined loan application process
- No fees
- No credit score requirement
- No collateral requirement
- Interest rates from 0% to 3%.
The VCLF is a large not-for-profit lender: since 1987, the Loan Fund has loaned over $113 million. While most of its funding sources are private citizens, businesses, and not-for-profits, the State of Vermont and other taxpayer-funded government agencies are among the contributors listed in the 2020 annual report.
Current Justice Forward Fund borrower businesses and projects include:
– Adolphe Lumumba, VT First Class Ride, South Burlington
– Cholena Pegues, Sat Mom, Brandon
– Damaris & Melvin Hall, Global Village Foods, Quechee
– David Bundrage, David’s Snow Removal, Lyndonville
– Lea Ann Macrery, My Favorite Things on Main, Jeffersonville
– In Tandem Arts, Burlington