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Community Spotlight - LiftFund

Annually, SACIV welcomes between 200-400 international visitors to San Antonio through State Department professional exchange programs like IVLP, connecting these global movers and shakers with local leaders in and around the city. For almost a decade, LiftFund staff have regularly met with delegations interested in learning about innovative ways to support entrepreneurs, especially women and minorities. In 2019 alone, they graciously welcomed over 40 visitors from nearly every region of the world, providing countless opportunities to encourage and nurture entrepreneurial spirit globally. We are excited to recognize them in this week’s Community Spotlight Series!

For over 25 years, LiftFund has helped individuals achieve the American Dream by providing small business lending to those who do not have access to capital from typical lenders, such as traditional banks. Along with vital small business loans, LiftFund provides educational services at no cost to borrowers, which are essential to foster self-sufficiency. You can watch a video here to learn more about their work.

Our international visitors, many of whom are successful entrepreneurs in their home countries, find LiftFund’s work of providing credit and services to small businesses and entrepreneurs of great interest. They are always impressed and inspired by the leadership and innovation offered to the local micro lending industry.

A recent meeting with an IVLP group, composed of representatives from Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, focused on their “Women’s Business Center”. Our guests appreciated learning about how the organization provides innovative business support services and strategic partnerships in the communities. They also were interested to hear about another successful program, “LaunchSA” (formerly Café Commerce), which provides a space for entrepreneurs to gain easy access to specialty programming, workshops, tailored support, advice, and resources in partnership with the City’s Economic Development Department.

LiftFund representatives also value the questions asked by the participants. Senior Business Development, Alma Valdez Brown, shared her experience connecting with SACIV’s delegations. “My favorite experience was meeting with an all-woman group supporting entrepreneurs in their countries. Many did not speak English and even though we used interpreters, we still managed to make a connection. I loved hearing about the places they were from and the impact they were making in their home country. I felt that connection as I also work with entrepreneurs here in San Antonio.”

Our visitors often comment on how helpful it was to learn about local services and programs that support and encourage entrepreneurial activities through these meetings. Many also reflect on how valuable it was to hear from alumni of LiftFund’s programs, who have established successful small businesses, on how their participation with LiftFund positively impacted their business growth and led them to mentor others.

In a time of uncertainty, which has greatly impacted the economy and left many small businesses struggling to survive, LiftFund has provided vital services and support to local business owners and entrepreneurs. “LiftFund has collaborated with Bexar County and the City of San Antonio to offer small business grants to businesses impacted by COVID-19. We shifted from making loans to quickly making grants. It was a learning process but we have now deployed grant programs in other cities we serve,” says Alma Valdez Brown.

As we continue celebrating the 80th Anniversary of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), we are grateful to our community partners, like LiftFund, who make us help us forge vital global connections.

To learn about LiftFund, please visit their website.

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