Are you interested in owning your own business or improving your existing venture but are not willing to take the risk because of financial roadblocks or other uncertainties?
A San Antonio-based company with two offices in the Rio Grande Valley can offer advice for start-ups and existing businesses, and loans of anywhere from $500 to $50,000. Called LiftFund, the company makes loans at interest rates ranging from 9 percent to 12 percent and under terms ranging from two years to seven years.
Sergio Rodriguez, business development manager with LiftFund, said the average loans in this area of the state are typically from $19,000 to $25,000. He said the interest rate of a loan depends on an applicant’s credit. LiftFund bases its business on what the company calls the five Cs of credit: character, capacity, capital, collateral and conditions.
Since 1998, the company has made 938 loans in the Brownsville/Harlingen area, totaling more than $9.2 million, compared to 1,886 loans in the McAllen region valued at more than $20.8 million. In its home base of San Antonio, LiftFund has made 4,229 loans for more than $52.6 million since 1994, and in Austin, the company has made 1,014 loans, totaling more than $13.4 million since 1999. LiftFund also has offices in 12 other states besides Texas.
Rodriguez gave a workshop recently about their lending capabilities at the Brownsville of Chamber of Commerce.
One of LiftFund’s Brownsville customers is Martin Leal, a teacher who, along with his wife Angelita and son Marty, own and operate Angelita’s Casa de Cafe, a coffeehouse on Boca Chica Boulevard. The family developed a business plan for the coffeehouse after visiting and inquiring first-hand and on the Internet about similar businesses in the state and elsewhere.
“Every time we go out of town we like to enjoy a cup of gourmet coffee,” Leal said. “However, we like to stay away from the commercial businesses and go to the smaller places.”
Angelita’s offers coffees from every continent that grows the aromatic beans, frappes, sandwiches and a variety of pastries. The enterprise features live music on Fridays and Saturdays, and provides instruments like acoustic guitars to anyone wanting to play them, usually after 8:30 p.m.
Leal said they found about LiftFund after his wife went to the Women’s Business Center in Brownsville and was referred to the company. After wheeling and dealing, they finally got a loan approved and took the plunge with the coffeehouse, which they opened four months ago.
In addition to the gourmet coffees they sell, they wanted to make Angelita’s something more than that. “We have tables, couches, books, games and even arts for sale from Valley painters,” Leal said. “We also have poetry once a month. I can say LiftFund lifted us up.”