A $ 100,000 donation from Intrust Bank will allow the city of Wichita to expand its microcredit program for disadvantaged entrepreneurs into a city-wide initiative in 2022.
The program was rolled out in May with a strong focus on small businesses owned by women and minorities in City Council District 1.
“When we showed their interest in the public, we had a lot more nominations that went outside of District 1, and so they were ineligible,” Deputy General Manager Scot Rigby said at a press conference Thursday.
The PROPEL program, which stands for Providing Resources and Opportunities for Owners, Entrepreneurs and Lenders, promises to lend business owners up to $ 20,000 at 3% interest. Loans must be repaid within three years.
The PROPEL revolving fund began as a pool of $ 88,000 from the District 1 Cup of the Hyatt Regency Wichita 2016 sale, when each district received $ 1 million.
Intrust Chairman Jay Smith said the bank views its $ 100,000 donation as an investment in the ecosystem of the Wichita business community.
“When you think about it, the health and success of our community really depends a lot on these entrepreneurs and small businesses and their contribution to growth,” said Smith.
“We look forward to great successes from the program in 2022.”
Applications for the extended PROPEL program will be accepted from January 18 to March 18.
To qualify, applicants must have been in business for at least two years and be able to demonstrate that their business is “majority owned by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged people”.
Rigby said the city will publish the nominations in Spanish and Vietnamese in addition to English.
Mayor Brandon Whipple said the revolving loan program will provide much-needed capital to business owners who might otherwise struggle to get a low-interest loan.
“It kind of fills that gap where many small businesses, if you’re looking for a loan to keep you under $ 20,000, it’s more difficult to get it from a bank,” Whipple said. “Usually, if people get that money, it’s a higher interest rate.”
So far, the city has only granted one microcredit to the Reel Propped Selfie Museum, an interactive museum that opened in September. Rigby said the homeowners have already started repaying their loan.
“As we receive and accumulate the interest from the loan, it will go back to the revolving fund so that we can put it back into the community,” he said.