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Crowdfunding: Wall Street, Meet Main Street

Equity crowdfunding finally makes its debut.

This article courtesy of Marsha Bailey
CEO & Founder, Women’s Economic Ventures
Chair, Association of Women’s Business Centers

In his book, Local Dollars, Local Sense, author Michael Shuman points out how nearly impossible it is for an individual to invest in a small, local business. For the vast majority of investors, Wall Street provides the only option for small investors to buy equity in a business.

That’s about to change.

In the past, only high net-worth individuals (accredited investors) could buy a share of a business that was not publicly owned – that is – traded on a stock exchange. The conventional wisdom was that wealthy investors were sophisticated enough to assess the risk they were taking and rich enough to sustain the loss should their assessment be wrong.

Now, with the SEC’s release of rules governing equity crowdfunding, those who are among the 99% can also invest in a new business down the street that we think has a lot of potential to grow.

What’s different? Most likely, you’ve heard of crowdfunding and perhaps even donated $25 or $100 to help get a business off the ground — the operative word being donated. In return for your donation, you may have received a product, a t-shirt, or a series of yoga lessons. What you didn’t receive was a share of the business.

Equity crowdfunding will enable you to actually own a share of the business you are investing in.

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act was passed in 2012. Why did it take so long for the SEC to release the rules governing equity crowdfunding? To put it bluntly, while the SEC considers wealthy people to be financially sophisticated, their assumption about the rest of us is, to put it nicely, paternalistic. I’m not saying they think we’re a bunch of rubes. Okay, I am saying that. Their concern is that people will make bad investment decisions and lose their money.

Following is a summary of Equity Crowdfunding and the SEC’s rules. (Thanks to Madison Services Group).

Crowdfunding Final Rule Report

Equity crowdfunding is an innovative and cost-effective, capital source for small firms. Crowdfunding allows a business to seek capital from a diverse group of investors through a website or “funding portal” and provides those investors with an equity stake or stock in the business. The Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, enacted in 2012, created a structure to allow and expedite crowdfunding investments. The Act exempted crowdfunding transactions from the complex and expensive securities registration process and created a much simpler procedure. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is charged with carrying out the law governing crowdfunding.

On October 30, the SEC issued a final rule for crowdfunding that will be effective January 29, 2016. Highlights of the new requirement include:

  • Small businesses can raise up to $1 million in a twelve-month period and must disclose:
    • Financial statements
    • How the proceeds from the offering will be used
    • Corporate officers and directors
  • Limits the amount an investor can spend to:
    • $2,000 or 5% of their annual income or net worth (whichever is less) if both are below $100,000
    • 10% of their annual income or net worth (whichever is less) if both are equal to or more than $100,000
    • A total of $100,000 aggregate investments during a 12-month period
  • Requires funding portals to register with the Financial Industry Regulatory authority (FINRA) and:
    • Provide educational materials on how the funding portal operates
    • Disclose how the portal is compensated
    • Provide disclosures from the offering business


The SEC’s requirements will allow small businesses to raise capital through investment without triggering federal securities laws and registration requirements. Equity crowdfunding promotes capital formation for small firms while still providing protections and disclosures for investors. For more information, please see SEC Chair Mary Jo White’s statement on Regulation Crowdfunding.


Additional resources:

2015 WOVEN Recap

Read about our expanded program for 2016.

November 4, 2015 · Delhi Community Center · Santa Ana, CA

Wovenimage2015 WOVEN was a huge success. Everyone learned a lot; people were furiously scribbling notes, nodding their heads, laughing, connecting, and enjoying themselves.

We had a great turn out of all of the stakeholders – women veterans, Southern California’s CAMEO members, veteran serving groups, the local SBA, our amazing speakers – Debbie, Eldonna, Karen, and Kim – Jesse Torres at the governor’s office, Lindsey Sin at CalVet, and Barb Carson from the U.S. SBA. And of course thanks to our major funders – One West Bank, First Republic, Union Bank, Pacific Western, and AT&T – and our Advisory Council* for making it all happen.

Microbusiness and self-employment offer women veterans increased opportunities to maximize their strengths and skills, to achieve their financial and career goals, and to customize their employment to accommodate their needs. And as Lindsey Sin said, women veterans make good microbusiness owners because they don’t take the easy route, have a sense of adventure, are resilient, and are good at handling stress.

Debbie Cuadros told us her inspiring story of how she went from wanting to be an executive secretary when she was a kid, to doing just that and not being satisfied to founding a successful IT firm. She gave some good advice…

  • Be open to change points in your life
  • Never be afraid to ask for help
  • Feel the fear and do it anyway

And left us with this thought…

The Land of Opportunity is an attitude. It is an openness to new ideas, a willingness to listen, an eagerness to learn, a desire to grow, and the flexibility to change.

–B J Gallagher Hateley, Warren H Schmidt

Download Debbie’s Prezi – “What did you want to be when you grew up?

Woven1Eldonna had us play a negotiation game that helped illustrate the seven mistakes of negotiation and their solutions (Photo right: Carla Holland from the SD SBDC and Amy Bryer, DDS playing ‘pay to play.’ )

  1. Not having confidence
  2. Not thinking everything is not negotiable
  3. Not being prepared
  4. Not looking the part
  5. Not building relationships first
  6. Not asking the right questions and
  7. Talking too much
    Bonus: not using the right strategy

For the solutions, you’ll have to take her Think Like A Negotiator training, but you can download Eldonna’s WOVEN presentation.

Karen Bates encouraged everyone to discover their UNIQUENESS instead of competing

    • U are Unique in Your
    • Nature
    • Ingenuity
    • Qualifications
    • Understanding
    • Experiences

KimKIn other words, combine your personality, inherent talent, skills, passion and experiences to learn who your ideal client, build your database and invite them to play with you.

Download Karen’s Juggling With Fire – UNIQUE presentation.

Karen’s workshop was the perfect lead in to Kim’s (photo right)  presentation about understanding if you have a viable business idea by using that ideal client, figuring what problem you will solve for them, determining if they will pay for your product/service and developing a feasible plan for letting them know that you exist.

We ended the day with loads of ideas filling our heads and new friends.

The WOVEN 2014 and 2015 events were just the beginning. CAMEO wants to expose and encourage as many female veterans and/or their spouses to business ownership. In addition to our annual event, we are developing an ongoing community of women veteran entrepreneurs through community-based programs with the Jonas Project. To start, we’ll hold three trainings in 2016 at the following locations: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center, Rise Financial Pathways, and South San Diego Small Business Development Center. And from there we’ll build. Women veterans want to continue to serve their country by starting businesses and contributing to the economy. In turn, we want to serve them.



8:30a Networking Continental Breakfast

9:15a Welcome

Pledge of Allegiance, Joseph Otting, President and CEO, One West Bank

Special Guests

Lindsey Sin (bio), Deputy Secretary, Women Veterans Affairs, California Department of Veterans Affairs

Debbie Cuadros (bio), Partner and co-founder of Simeio Solutions. Debbie went from receptionist to company founder. Learn how and what her lessons are to apply to your business.

10:15 Morning Super Session I

Think Like a Negotiator

DSC_0264Negotiation is simply discussions to agree on a deal and is crucial to success in business. Whether you are negotiating a multi-million dollar deal or simply where to meet for dinner, improving your negotiation skills will give you more confidence and better results. Learn how to find more power, negotiate better deals and create win-win results. You will be energized, empowered and educated to be a better negotiator and understand the art and language of negotiation.

Presenter: Eldonna Lewis Fernandez (bio), Professional Speaker, Author, MSgt USAF Retired,

Introduced by: Union Bank

11:45 Morning Super Session II


Karen Bates HeadshotTransform your business when you use your uniqueness to find and serve your perfect customer!

This will keep you from the overwhelming fear and anxiety so often felt by women when we run our businesses focused on the traditional success model of crushing the competition with the best service, lowest price or latest technology fad!

All of which lead to a never ending cycle of working incredibly long and gruesome hours, working for free, or spending thousands of dollars on the latest technology gadgets and marketing ploys.

All of that changes when you discover your UNIQUENESS.

      • U are Unique in Your
      • Nature
      • Ingenuity
      • Qualifications
      • Understanding
      • Experiences

“You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” ~ Zig Ziglar

Presenter:  Karen Bates (bio)
Founder of Military Loans
President, Juggling With Fire

Introduced by: Elsa Monte, Senior Vice President, CRA and Community Development, Pacific Western Bank

12:45p Networking Lunch 

1:15p Lunch Special Guest and Listening Session

Welcome from the Governor – Jesse Torres, Deputy Director for Small Business and Small Business Advocate, Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development

Barb Carson (bio), Associate Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Veterans Business Development; Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve

Introduced by Rachel Baranick, Deputy District Director, U.S. Small Business Administration

Santa Ana District Office

What are the opportunities and challenges for women veteran business owners? Barb Carson, who heads the US SBA’s veterans programs, will discuss what they see around the country and listen to your specific opportunities and challenges.

2:00-3:00p Afternoon Super Session 

Is My Business (Idea) Viable?  Is There a Market For My Business?  Or How to Become a Junior Expert in Your Market 

Because you have something to sell, doesn’t mean customers will knock down your door to buy it. Launching a business without understanding your competition and market is a fool’s mission and a primary reason that businesses fail. Does the world need your stuff? Or are you selling to an audience of one? Learn how to identify your market and understand your customer, so that you’re on the winning side.

Presenter: Kim Kelsall (bio), Storyteller, The Jonas Project

Concurrent with the afternoon super session is Reaching and Serving Veterans for Jonas Project and CAMEO members and is by invitation only.

3:00 -4:00 Wrap Up, Networking and Book Signing

*Advisory Council
California Department of Veteran Affairs
CDC Small Business Finance
Disabled Veteran Business Alliance
GC Green
The Jonas Project
Military Home Loans
The Sanberg Group
Think Like A Negotiator
Women Veterans Unity Group



Read about our expanded program for 2016.

Download a 2015 Woven Flyer!

Read about 2014’s WOVEN program.

CAMEO thanks our following supporters:


First Republic Bank - 2014UB_logo_color_r_rgb




Credit Card Chip Hearing on Capitol Hill

Thanks to Jake Clabaugh for this report on two House Committee on Small Business hearings

In case your wondering EMV = Europay – MasterCard – Visa.

emvchipMerchants of all sizes were required to upgrade their credit card processing technology to avoid liability for fraudulent charges by October 1st. The House Committee on Small Business held a two-part hearing series on implementation of new credit card technology designed to increase security and prevent fraud. This industry-led changeover will require all businesses to use the Europay – MasterCard – Visa (EMV) chip system to process credit card transactions. To affect this change, financial services providers will no longer be liable for instances of fraud if the merchant has not upgraded to the EMV chip system.

The hearings offered interesting, and often contrasting, perspectives on this issue. At the first hearing, representatives from the financial industry praised the upgrades and highlighted the protections that the EMV chip system offers. The second hearing, featuring small business owners that need to implement these changes, revealed a much more complex situation. While witnesses at both hearings and the Committee members generally agreed that the EMV system offers more sophisticated fraud protections, implementing these modifications is a significant burden for small businesses.

Despite the outreach efforts of financial firms, small business owners are generally not aware of these changes. According to a recent study about preparedness for this changeover, less than half of small businesses were aware of the October 1st changeover deadline and liability shift.

Small businesses will have to purchase equipment to process sales using the new chips, but the required upgrades do not stop there. Integrating the new technology with point-of-sale terminals, inventory management tools, and other systems could exponentially inflate costs. Given integration, software upgrades, training, and ongoing maintenance, a quick and easy changeover is unlikely.

Photo credit: tales of a wandering youkai

MMS Success Year Two: Doubling Loans for Small Lenders

 The MLA newsletter is chock-a-block with articles, resources, technology, success stories, interviews, and big picture ideas on all Lending Academy features.

In this Issue…

  • MMS Year 2 Sees Rapid Growth
  • MMS Lessons Learned
  • MMS Success Story:  Nikki Daley, HEAT Culinary
  • Small Business Responsible Lending Coalition
  • Excellence in Lending: Opportunity Fund, Scaling for the Mission
  • Research:  Peer to Peer Lending
  • Microlending Legislation: SB 197 Signed and Microloan TA
  • News

Technology: MMS Year 2 Sees Rapid Growth

MMS-Year-Growth-Total-3Every member of the cohort grew their lending; by anywhere from 5% to 35%. The cohort as a whole grew by 26% over last year, and 113% over the base year, more than doubling the number of loans made (see graph left). Working Solutions especially has seen substantial growth in the past two years, almost tripling its lending activity.

Other organizations are primed to grow; Opening Doors has brought on a new management team to replace the retiring Phyllis Guillory, and Women’s Economic Ventures has hired a second loan officer to cover their Santa Barbara service area. CDC Small Business Finance has been pleased with the performance of the loans they’ve sent through MMS, and will submit their entire microloan portfolio through the system. Previously, they had capped applications at $20,000 and limited the geographic region served by the program.  Robert Villareal of CDC said, “We are going to expand our use of MMS to all our SBA microloans to increase speed, efficiency and cost.”

Three new lenders have joined – MEDA, Fresno CDFI and Mendocino’s Economic Development Finance Corporation.

Read the entire MMS Year Two Report.

Technology: MMS Lessons Learned

1000879553In August CAMEO pulled together the growing MMS tribe in August for discussion, learning and trading ideas. First we asked everyone what they like best about MMS and got some great answers.  We also asked what they would like change about the system.  Then we turned our attention to shortening the loan cycle with MMS.  Read the MMS Lessons Learned post by Susan Brown.

Contact Susan if you’re interested in learning more or participating in the MMS program.  MMS, developed by LiftFund (formerly Accion Texas), provides instant risk assessment and fast, quality underwriting to support microlenders in scaling up and maintaining strong portfolio performance.

Success Story: Nikki Dailey, HEAT Culinary

Nikki Dailey, HEAT Culinary This story comes to us from Women’s Economic Ventures. HEAT Culinary was one of WEV’s first applicants under the Microloan Management System (MMS), and has gone on to great success since receiving a loan from the organization. She’s opened a storefront and a food truck, and has many other projects in the hopper.

“MMS has been tremendously helpful for us,” said Devon Johnson, WEV’s Director of Lending. “We’ve been able to grow our program in ways we couldn’t before, and our consistency and turnaround time has improved substantially. MMS’s underwriters enable us to give applicants an answer in days instead of weeks, and offer clear suggestions for technical assistance and credit counseling for those who don’t qualify for a loan.”

Small Business Responsible Lending Coalition

increase your loan capitalWe’ve written a lot about the disruption in small business lending, especially in communities that have been underserved.

Because banks have basically abandoned the small business lending space, a number of new players have entered the arena.  Merchant Cash Advance companies are now providing six times more financing to small businesses than SBA loans.

This transformation will achieve its potential only if it is built on transparency, fairness, and putting the rights of borrowers at the center of the lending process. To that end, a coalition – Accion, Aspen Institute, Fundera, Funding Circle, Lending Club, Multifunding, Opportunity Fund and Small Business Majority – identified the fundamental financing rights that all small businesses deserve.

The Small Business Borrowers’ Bill of Rights outlines six key rights that all borrowers should have. If a lender chooses to adhere to the criteria, the CEO signs the bill of rights and ensure compliance. The six key rights are:

  1. The right to transparent pricing and terms, including a right to see an annualized interest rate and fees.
  2. The right to non-abusive products, so that borrowers don’t get trapped.
  3. The right to responsible underwriting, so that borrowers are not put into loans that they cannot repay.
  4. The right to fair treatment from brokers, so that borrowers are not steered to the most expensive loans that pay the broker the highest commission.
  5. The right to inclusive credit action, without discrimination.
  6. The right to fair collection practices, to prevent harassment.

If you’re a small business lender, credit marketplace, or broker, you can sign the bill of rights. If you are another interested party, you can become an endorser. CAMEO has signed on as an endorser.

The coalition members decided that rather than hold their breaths for regulation that they would define responsible lending and educate small businesses.  They’re also hoping to put market pressure on lenders to adopt more responsible lending practices.

Participate in a conversation about BBOR and learn about the ways it can help you educate borrowers and promote responsible lending practices on October 15, 2015 at 11:00am PT // 2:00pm ET.

Excellence in Lending: Scaling for the Mission

1000947586The goal of our Excellence in Lending program is to digest big picture topics important to our CDFI members: the frameworks, processes and goals that underlie programs and lead to greater success.  These calls are for the big picture thinker at each CDFI, to support greater competitiveness, volume and efficiency.

At the end of August, Opportunity Fund talked about scaling to reach more underserved businesses.  The big take-away was Opportunity Fund’s willingness to reflect on its process, question the sacred cows of lending, conduct fresh analysis on its own portfolio performance and then, undertake the challenge of organizational and process change to improve performance and scale.

–Download the slidedeck and listen to the webinar (67 minutes)–

Their process —  which does not use high tech algorithms or online applications — led them to close 1,560 microloans this past year.  The business model that allows such scale has elements that all leaders in the CAMEO lending network need to consider.

Research:  Peer to Peer Lending

The SBA’s Office of Advocacy details
Peer-To-Peer Lending (P2P) in a recent issue brief on “Peer-To-Peer Lending: A Financing Alternative for Small Businesses”.

“Imagine that you own a small bakery and you need $15,000 to buy a new oven. There are 15 people across the country, each of whom has $1,000 that they want to invest in a small business. The only problem is
that the likelihood of meeting all of these 15 investors is fairly low—unless you use an online peer-to- peer (P2P) lending platform.”

P2P is a business funding model in which individual investors make small personal loans online to individuals – a kind of a hybrid between crowdfunding and marketplace lending.

The issue brief explains P2P and shows a side-by-side view of P2P and how it stacks up with traditional small business financing options. It also shows how it could affect small businesses in the future, giving them more opportunity for financial growth..

MicroLending Legislation

SB 197 (Block) was signed by the governor! CAMEO co-sponsored SB 197 with Opportunity Fund and pounded alot of pavement in the Capitol to make it happen!

The bill removes a competitive disadvantage that currently affects licensed commercial lenders in California. In essence, the bill allow CAMEO’s microlenders to pay referral fees to consultants, non-profits (e.g. TA providers) and others who refer successful loans, subject to certain restrictions intended to promote responsible lending. It also will give your clients more information about affordable lending products.

The Senate is considering legislation passed by the Senate Small Business Committee that would change the SBA Microloan program. While some of the changes are beneficial to intermediaries, counselors, and entrepreneurs, the bill fails to include critical reforms that program participants have requested. For example, the current legislation would allow a waiver from the 25/75 Technical Assistance (TA) requirement to be issued by SBA. This is really unnecessary paperwork and the requirement should be removed all together. Providing business assistance that supports entrepreneurs should be at the lender’s discretion. AEO and CAMEO believe that microloan reform legislation without important changes will not best benefit the program and its users. We urge you to add your organization in support of this letter to tell the Senate to include these reforms in their legislation. If you are willing to sign on, please email our Government Relations team member John Stanford.


2015 WOVEN Speakers

Karen Archipley
Co-founder, Archi’s Acres, VSAT

Archi’s Acres, Inc. is a farming enterprise that uses hydroponic technology to grow organic produce. Headquartered in Escondido California, the company is owned and operated by husband and wife team of Colin and Karen Archipley. The Archipley’s are a unique combination of talent, vision, commitment and success. Colin is a combat-decorated Marine Sergeant and Karen is a previously successful fashion industry entrepreneur. The Archipley’s founded Archi’s Acres, Inc. in 2006. The Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) program is a six-week intensive course (17 credits) in agribusiness through Cal Poly Pomona.

Karen Bates HeadshotKaren Aguayo Bates
Founder, Military Home Loans
President, Juggling With Fire

In 1994, Karen experienced her “Six Figure Home Buying Mistake.” Karen states, “The agent and lender working on my VA deal and impacting my financial future simply did not know enough about VA to properly advise me.” Today, the condo she did not purchase because it was not VA approved is worth $120,000 more than its 1994 price tag!

Karen completed eight years of service as a Naval Air Traffic Controller and then became a Certified Public Accountant. In 2004, Karen combined her military background with her financial expertise and founded Military Home Loans. Her passion is to ensure Veterans never miss the opportunity to experience their American dream.

Karen is California’s 2013 Mortgage Professional of the Year and was featured on Yahoo Finance for earning and retaining $1 million as a female entrepreneur. Karen is devoted to her husband of 16 years and is blessed with their beautiful daughter Elizabeth (8).


Barb Carson
Associate Administrator for the Office of Veterans Business Development
Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve

At SBA, Ms. Carson develops, promotes and employs policies and programs that support veteran owned small business. Her efforts focus on SBA veteran related programs for active duty and reserve service members, service disabled veterans, and military dependents and survivors.

Ms. Carson has first-hand military experience, having served over 20 years as an active duty and reserve officer. While stationed in Okinawa, Japan, she founded a small business with a fellow veteran and continues to be passionate about entrepreneurship opportunities for military service members, veterans and their spouses.


Debbie CuadrosDebbie Cuadros
Partner and co-founder of Simeio Solutions

Debbie is an Associate Partner and co-founder of Simeio Solutions, a global IT company. She is responsible for the Expert Managed Services line of business and global marketing and communications. She is also a School Board member for Bellflower Unified School District which serves approximately 13,000 students, 14 schools and $137M annual budget.

Debbie is retired in 2003 from the United States Air Force Reserves as a Senior Master Sergeant (E-8) with over 21 years of service. During her service, she was founder of the March Air Reserve Base Honor Guard, served as a Military Training Instructor (Drill Sergeant), and was Performance Program Manager for 14 bases.

Debbie is committed to arts and advocacy and has served as a board member of the Youth Cultural Arts Foundation and as member of Soroptimist of Lakewood/Long Beach.

She has Masters and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Organizational Leadership from Chapman University.


Eldonna_01812Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
CEO, Dynamic Vision International Inc.
Professional Speaker, Author, MSgt USAF Retired,

Eldonna is a retired Air Force veteran with 23 years of honorable military service.  She is a negotiation and contracts expert with over 30 years of leadership, contracts management and negotiation experience.  She has negotiated contracts from $1 to over $100 million both stateside and internationally.  She was selected for an assignment to the White House Military Office in 2002.  She has 7 years of extensive experience working for defense contractors in the Aerospace Industry.  She holds a Top Secret security clearance and  has been a trusted agent of the U.S. Government for 30 years. As CEO of Dynamic Vision, she trains people how to think like a negotiator by creating win-win results and understanding pitfalls.  She is an international award winning speaker and an award winning author.


Kim Kelsall
The Jonas Project

Kim has over 15 years of experience in marketing, public relations and advertising. She has worked in many industries fine-tuning her skills as a communicator. Kim has spent the last year and half working for a late-stage tech start up in Austin, TX creating and building the brand. Prior to her time in tech, she worked at a small boutique advertising agency with several high-profile clients. She’s worked in the food industry, home building, public service and training and development. Kim holds a bachelors in communications from Louisiana State University in Shreveport, and a masters in advertising from the University of Texas at Austin.


LizPerezLiz Perez
President and Founder, GC Green Incorporated

Elizabeth “Liz” Perez-Halperin is the President and founder of GC Green Incorporated (GCG), a certified woman, Native American, and 9/11 service disabled veteran owned Green Build General Contracting and Consulting Firm. Prior to starting GCG, Liz was in the green build and engineering industry for six years in San Diego, and served in the United States Navy for over eight years as an Aviation Logistics Specialist. She is passionate about using her experience and network to help other Veterans to find job opportunities in the green economy and to promote to Veterans to seek out and follow their own entrepreneurial dreams. Towards that end, Liz currently serves on the San Diego State Sustainability Advisory Board as a job creation champion, and is Chairman of the Board of the Jonas Project – a nonprofit organization that assists Veterans in becoming entrepreneurs. She is a member of the North Fork Mono Indian tribe.


SBA'14Mike Sabellico
Executive Director
Disabled Veterans Business Alliance

Mike possesses over twenty-five years of diverse work experience in leading programs, managing multimillion dollar budgets and assets, and improving quality and processes.  Mike is a twenty year veteran of the US Coast Guard (USCG) with several Command Cadre tours.  During his time with the Coast Guard, Mike gained a significant amount of experience in Maritime and Emergency Response, ranging from Search and Rescue and Maritime counter smuggling efforts to hurricane and natural disaster response.  He has hands on executive experience from both a planning and actual operations perspective.  After leaving the Coast Guard, he managed a robust business development program for a San Diego based defense contractor with offices throughout the US.  He left that company in 2010 to launch Vanguard Global Solutions, a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business specializing in Homeland Security, Emergency Preparedness, and specialized business consulting focusing on marketing, growth strategy, certifications, and sales. (Read Mike Sabellico’s full bio)


Stacey SanchezStacey Sanchez
Senior Community Loan Officer
CDC Small Business Finance

Stacey Sanchez is a Senior Community Loan Officer with CDC Small Business Finance, specializing in loans under $250,000 for new or existing businesses and/or business acquisitions. Ms. Sanchez received the 2014 SBA Small Business Financial Services Champion Award, for her work to assist small businesses beyond her job description. Ms. Sanchez has been with CDC Small Business Finance since 2003, she has been working with small business owners for nearly 30 years.  She started her career with a family owned business and spent 10 years helping them grow from 6 locations to 60.  Ms. Sanchez has worked as a consultant for several Small Business Development Centers, a Minority Small Business Development Center, and a SBA consulting company.  She was with the U.S. Small Business Administration Santa Ana District Office for five years, as the Lead Economic Development Specialist and Public Information Officer.


Sandy-smlSandra Schneeberger
Sanberg Group, Inc

Sandy Schneeberger retired from the United States Army Reserves in 2005, having served from 1984-2005 for over twenty one years, including four years in active duty status.  Her specialty training allowed her to work in several job positions in Administration, Training, Logistics, and Transportation serving first at the company level, promoted to battalion, brigade and retiring out of the Headquarters Regional Support Command G-1 at Los Alamitos.

Sandy started her business during her military career, and focused on growing an environmental consulting firm providing a variety of services including hazardous materials, geology/hydrogeology, and her specialty, cultural resources management.  She received a Master’s Degree in Anthropology from California State University, Fullerton. Once retired from the Army, Sandy grew her company as President and CEO of The Sanberg Group, Inc. to three locations, including Los Angeles, San Diego, and recently Henderson, Nevada.  The firm has projects throughout the California region, Arizona, Nevada, Maryland and Minnesota.  (read Ms. Schneeberger’s full bio)


Lindsey Sin, Deputy Secretary, Women Veterans Affairs

Lindsey Sin
Deputy Secretary, Women Veterans Affairs
California Department of Veterans Affairs

Lindsey Sin currently serves as the Deputy Secretary for Women Veterans Affairs at the California Department of Veterans Affairs. She was appointed to the position by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. on November 22, 2011.

Lindsey served in the US Navy from 1997 until 2005 and worked in military intelligence. She completed two flight tours in Rota, Spain during which time she deployed in support of Operations Northern Watch, Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom, and achieved the rank of Petty Officer First Class.

After separating from the Navy, Lindsey returned to Sacramento and worked with veterans at American River College and Sacramento State. Lindsey has a BA in History from Sacramento State and an MBA from Drexel University.

Designate Mojave Resources as National Monuments for Local Microbusinesses

For Immediate Release
Contact: Heidi Pickman, 415-992-4484

Press Statement by Claudia Viek, CEO, CAMEO
Support for the Sand to Snow, Mojave Trails, and Castle Mountains to be designated as national monuments on the heels of the October 13th Whitewater, CA public listening session

California’s Mojave Desert has over a million visitors a year. Regional microbusinesses – shops, artisans, outdoor recreation guides – depend on the area’s natural resources for their livelihood. And those businesses are a major source of job creation for the area. That’s why I believe the Sand to Snow, Mojave Trails, and Castle Mountains should be designated as national monuments to preserve these rich landscapes and support the regional economy.

Governor Brown Signs SB 197

Increases Access to Affordable Capital for California’s Small Business Owners

a cool fifty thousand

a cool fifty thousand

Sacramento, CA – Over the weekend, California Governor Brown signed into law SB 197, which increases access to affordable capital for California’s 3.6 million small and microbusiness owners. The law helps small business owners to learn about responsible financing options at reasonable rates and that help build their credit. This is especially important for women-owned and minority-owned firms, which have the greatest difficulty obtaining financing.

Word-of-mouth is a key marketing strategy for reaching small business owners, especially in underbanked immigrant and minority communities; referral fees for successful loans encourage word-of-mouth. Before SB 197, the California State Lender’s Law prohibited licensed lenders – including mission-driven microlenders who structure their products to ensure business owners build credit – from paying referral fees to individuals or small businesses that do not have a state-issued broker’s license. Most referrers are not licensed because of high licensing costs, including local tax preparers/bookkeepers, nonprofits, or other business owners who have received a loan. Meanwhile, alternative lenders and banks commonly use brokers to reach potential customers. Broker referrals account for upwards of 45% of the financing done by alternative lenders.

SB197 helps responsible lending products become more competitive with other predatory financing options, such as merchant cash advances, by removing a competitive disadvantage that affected licensed commercial lenders in California, like Opportunity Fund and many members of the California Association of Microenterprise Opportunity (CAMEO), allowing them to pay referral fees to those with whom they do business.

“With a proliferation of online and alternative lenders, small businesses need better information about the most appropriate financing available to them,” said Claudia Viek, Chief Executive Officer of CAMEO, a statewide network of mission-driven entrepreneurial training programs and microlenders. “This bill is crucial to the 3.6 million California small and microbusinesses that are looking for affordable capital to grow their businesses by allowing responsible lenders to more easily get the word out about their loan products.”

CEO Eric Weaver of Opportunity Fund also emphasized the benefits to small businesses. “This means that Opportunity Fund, a mission-based nonprofit lender, can now compete against predatory lenders. Even though we’re the largest nonprofit lender to small businesses in California, it’s still a bit like David and Goliath trying to reach small business owners with the affordable credit we offer. But SB197 changes that by providing us with a new slingshot that levels the playing field.”

CAMEO and Opportunity Fund co-sponsored the bill, which was authored by Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego). It received unanimous support from the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and full senate.

“SB 197 levels the playing field for California lenders and also helps creates greater access to capital for small businesses,” said Block, Chair of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.


About CAMEO: CAMEO’s mission is to promote jobs, economic opportunity and community well-being through entrepreneurship training, business coaching and microfinance. CAMEO is California’s statewide microbusiness network made up of over 170 organizations, agencies and individuals dedicated to furthering the fortunes of micro-businesses in California. Annually, CAMEO members serve about 15,000 very small businesses with training, business and credit assistance and loans. These firms – largely start-ups with less than five employees – support or create 30,000 new jobs in California. And generate a total of $1 billion in economic activity.

Press inquiries: Heidi Pickman, 415-992-4484,

About Opportunity Fund: Opportunity Fund believes that small amounts of money and financial advice can help people make permanent and lasting change in their own lives, driving economic mobility and building stronger communities. We say “Yes!” to small business owners, low-income students, and families because entrepreneurship, education, and sound financial habits are proven pathways to greater economic opportunity.

Our strategy combines microloans for small business owners and microsavings accounts to help students pay for college and families save for a rainy day. As California’s leading microfinance provider, our team has deployed $100 million and helped more than 12,000 people since 1994.

Press inquiries: Caitlin McShane, 408-512-2211(o), 415-225-8855(c),

Invest in the Mendocino Wool Mill

Through a historic new community-based Local Social Impact Investment Note, California residents can harness the power of local investment and help launch the Mendocino Wool Mill project. Economic Development & Financing Corporation (EDFC) offers investors an opportunity to shift their money from Wall Street to “Main Street” with the first Direct Public Offering of its kind in the state of California.

Spearheaded by local sheepshearer, Matt Gilbert, the wool mill will help revive a traditional industry that has huge potential to support local ranchers and artisans, and create new jobs while producing many fine locally-processed wool products.

EDFC is a 501(c)3 non-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), that has been operating in Mendocino County since 1995, with extensive lending history. Our mission is to connect money and ideas with entrepreneurs to create sustainable prosperity. We believe in building a healthy community that encourages resourcefulness, creativity and abundance for future generations. If you share this vision, we want to know you.

Details: The DPO mitigates risk by matching investments with grant funding and portfolio insurance. Each note has a 6-year term with a 2% annual interest rate. We are aiming to raise a minimum of $250,000 by February 2016. We have raised over $100k to date, see website to track our progress!

Please contact EDFC for more information and an investor packet.

Taking Microlending to a New Level

by Susan Brown

OPPFUNDlogoHow did Opportunity Fund get to 2,000 deals per year? Opportunity Fund’s Director of Microlending, Devin McAlpine, walked us through the evolution of their program design in an August webinar.

Download the slidedeck and listen to the webinar (67 minutes).

Up until 2011, Opportunity Fund’s program looked similar to most of the CDFIs in our network. Their loan officers sent applications into the underwriting department, who in turn, collected multiple years of tax returns, six months of bank statements and business licenses. They reviewed credit reports in a fairly conventional way, looking at all the past use of credit in making their final decision. With this model they expanded from 30 deals in 2008 to 300 deals in 2010. This would have been considered sufficient success for many CDFIs. But not for Opportunity Fund.

In 2011 they made dramatic changes to their model that has led to closing 2,000 deals per year. This model is radically different than that of the other CDFI’s in our network, giving us all a lot to consider. Here’s how they do it now.

Role of Loan Consultants

  • Opportunity Fund’s loan consultants are a bit like in-the-field, a-to-z loan departments. Loan consultants are rarely behind their desks; they spend 3-4 days per week in the field. They each have a territory where they are responsible for outreach, bank and dealership relations, origination, applications, document collection, underwriting and collections.
  • Loan Consultants have a team meeting once per week.  Applications are sent for approval when the package is complete.
  • Each Loan Consultant prepares and closes 7-14 deals per month that are held in his/her personal portfolio consisting of up to 250 loans.

Incentivized compensation

  • Compensation to Loan Consultants shifted from straight salary to a split between salary and bonus.
  • Base pay and bonuses are about 50% of annual compensation, but it’s possible for the monthly bonus to more than double monthly salary.
  • Bonuses, calculated and paid monthly, are based on three factors: number of loans closed, dollar volume of loans closed and performance of that Loan Consultant’s personal portfolio.

Pared down underwriting and document collection

One great advantage of a large portfolio is that you can analyze the characteristics of your strong re-payers, learning what works without having to rely on standard industry assumptions. In doing this analysis on their portfolio, Opportunity Fund realized it could change its underwriting and document requirements and still maintain high repayment rates.

  • Opportunity Fund is not a FICO based lender.  Instead, they focus on payment history to credit cards and vehicle loans for the last 12 to 24 months, but comprehensive analysis of all credit history data is essential.
  • For loans over $10,000, documents were reduced to 3 months bank statements, last year’s tax return, current year Profit and Loss statement.
  • For loans $10,000 and under, only proof of being in business (which can be as simple as a picture) and a credit pull may be sufficient to award a loan.


Opportunity Fund has no minimum collateral requirements and many of their small loans are not collateralized. On larger loans they will take a lien on business assets or a vehicle, but again, without a required loan-to-value ratio. “We have $70,000 loans in our portfolio collateralized with $3,000 cars,” said Devin.

Managing delinquencies

Each Loan Consultant’s portfolio is assigned a Collections Specialist.  The Loan Consultant and Collector meet weekly to review all loans even one day late and discuss actions to get the client back on track.

“Opportunity Fund works with a delinquent client to maintain good credit and deepen the relationship,” says Devin. Loan Consultants work with clients to get current by offering business coaching. They also get creative by approving a skipped payment, a half payment or by restructuring the entire loan.

Opportunity Fund has a policy of collecting and confirming two personal references before disbursing a loan. They have found that phone numbers change, people move. Being able to track down a client through a family member or close friend is an integral piece of part of maintaining a solid connection to borrower and finding them when delinquencies occur.

With this pro-active approach, and tying bonuses to portfolio performance, OF maintains delinquency rate under 2% on its massive portfolio.


The big take-away from this webinar is Opportunity Fund’s willingness to reflect on its process, question the sacred cows of lending, conduct fresh analysis on its own portfolio performance and then, undertake the challenge of organizational and process change to improve performance and scale.

We strongly recommend you listen to this webinar if you missed it, or listen to it again if you attended. There’s a wealth of information and food for thought. We would like to continue this dialogue with all of you so our network can stay ahead of the microlending field. Thank you to Devin for offering this valuable webinar.

MMS: Lessons Learned

by Susan Brown

In August CAMEO pulled together the growing MMS tribe in August for discussion, learning and trading ideas. First we asked everyone what they like best about MMS and got some great answers. Clearly, MMS is working to increase volume and efficiency.

  • “We’re more efficient and have been able to double our volume to 100 deals per year.”
    — Agnes Chueng, Working Solutions
  • “It gives us a clear loan process path.”
    — Nathanial Owen, MEDA
  • “We are going to expand our use of MMS to all our SBA microloans to increase speed, efficiency and cost.”
    — Robert Villareal, CDC Small Business Finance
  • “MMS makes it easy to communicate to other loan officers and stay current on each deal.”
    — Devon Johnson, WEV

We also asked what they would like change about the system and got two responses.

First, our MMSers would like to streamline communications with the LiftFund underwriters. To address this, Andrew works closely with each CAMEO member and the MMS underwriters to standardize protocols on how to submit information to the underwriters. At the same time, Andrew submits our requests for changes back to the MMS underwriting team.

Second, everyone would like to be able to integrate their MMS data into their other MIS systems such as Salesforce or Portfol. We let Liftfund know our group is interest in this increased capacity. In the meantime, MMS users can work with Andrew to export their data out of MMS and into their MIS programs.

Then we turned our attention to shortening the loan cycle with MMS. Although MMS is a fairly structured system, how the steps are managed is unique to each organization. Andrew has been capturing timeline data for each organization, which sheds light on how each is using MMS.

Once an application is received, the steps in the process, along with our team’s average number of days for each step, are summarized here for the current CAMEO MMS users:

MMS Loan Steps Median # of Days
for each step
Range of Days
for each step
Run Auto Review 3 2-3 2
Collect required documents 17 15-34 14
Underwriting recommendation 3 3 3
Final decision and closing 23 14-28 14
Total # Days 46 34-68 33

One benefit of MMS is the ability to streamline the lending process, allowing organizations to focus on increasing volume. The goal of our conversation was to look at how much time it takes each organization to get a deal through the process, which in turn, determines how many deals they can close in a year.

As the table shows, collecting backup documentation and final decision take much of the time. The high-volume microlenders have their loan officers out in the field, collecting documents at borrower’s place of business. Their staff also have final-decision authority without having to go to a loan committee. These two approaches can get loan turn around to 2-3 weeks.
We discussed these ideas, and got various responses. Some organizations don’t have the capacity to have staff in the field collecting documents. Others feel that having the borrower present to the loan committee is an important step in a client’s business development skills even though it adds time to the process.

We don’t pull the MMS family together too often, and it is helpful to flesh out ideas, get feedback and give everyone food for thought. This discussion was helpful in expanding our collective knowledge and furthering our success. We now have seven organizations in CAMEO’s MMS project. Go team!