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Bank of America provides $300K grant to Solidarity Microfinance


Solidarity Microfinance announced it has received a grant from Bank of America that will allow the Des Moines-based organization to further invest in Iowans working toward personal financial goals and entrepreneurial expansion, through $300,000 in additional funding spanning three years.   

Solidarity Microfinance, a nonprofit program of Iowa Community Capital, creates economic opportunities through providing small business loans, training and support, and savings services. Recognizing that many Iowans face barriers in the success of their operations, including imperfect credit histories, language barriers, immigration status and educational background, the program has served more than 400 Iowans, resulting in over 1,400 issued loans.

This newest initiative builds on Bank of America’s work in Iowa to address the underlying social issues individuals face in gaining access to capital and reach economic success, particularly in communities of color, who have been disproportionately affected by the current health crisis. The grant is also part of the bank’s expanded $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial and ethnic equality and create economic opportunity, which it announced in March 2021.

“Bank of America is devoted to helping build on the achievements of meaningful organizations who create real change in our communities and serve those who may otherwise not have adequate access to financial education and resources,” said Heidi Parkhurst (top photo), president of Bank of America Iowa. “This grant will help provide the tools needed for those of all backgrounds who are seeking to start or grow their business.”

The funding will be distributed to clients such as Monica Akuein (bottom photo) of Des Moines, who owns and operates a local catering business, sharing the traditions of her Sudanese culture through food and celebration.

When Akuein immigrated to Iowa in 1998, she saw the need for this type of service in the Des Moines metro and has since participated in various programs offered through Solidarity Microfinance to bring her love of cooking and hospitality to the community. While she says the COVID-19 pandemic has created unavoidable obstacles, her business has continued to build a reliable additional stream of income for her family, thanks in part to the assistance she has received.

“Solidarity Microfinance has given me several opportunities to build revenue from something which was previously only a hobby,” Akuein said. “I cannot say enough positive things about how important it has been to have an approachable source who cares about my success as I continue to embrace my passions.”  

Two other Des Moines entrepreneurs started participating in programs offered by Solidarity Microfinance in 2015. Juana Castellanos is the owner of a small food business, and Azucena Trujillo owns Bienestar y Salud, a nutrition and skin care business.

“After joining Solidarity Microfinance, I was able to buy more equipment, and my business grew by more than 60%,” Castellanos said. “This grant from Bank of America will further help those in my position grow their businesses as well.”

The microlending program enabled Trujillo to rent a location and expand her business. “Not only have I been able to expand my education and receive a certificate to offer more services, but I have also gained valuable skills in business administration,” she said.

Solidarity Microfinance was launched in 2015 by the nonprofit Iowa Community Capital, an initiative of Iowa State University’s Community Vitality Center. Visit this link to read a Business Record article about Solidarity Microfinance.

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