Three Coachella area business owners were each awarded $1,000 business advancement grants at a workshop held on March 30th at the Palm Desert Center of UC Riverside. The “Access to Capital” event was hosted by Orange County nonprofit, The Center, which offers educational and coaching services to small businesses throughout southern California and sponsored by Pacific Western Bank. The event featured speakers from a number of small business loan providers including, Lendistry, a southern California based online lender, Accion, and Experian. The winners of the $1,000 grant were B Smart Solutions, The Coachella Valley Independent, and Oasis Marketing.

The diverse group of attendees participated in interactive breakout groups to address specific issues and collaborate directly with the speakers and other business owners. “Engagement level between speakers and audience was high, that is what we wanted to accomplish,” said Maria L. Arakaki, Executive Director of The Center. “The three networks sessions were very interactive, we had to pull people away from their conversations to attend the next session.”

Access to capital is an issue many small business owners find challenging. Since the recession in 2008, requirements by traditional lenders have become increasingly difficult for some small business owners to meet. The speakers were able to share with the attendees the different products available to small business owners at all stages of maturity.

“This event is unique in that several lenders came together as partners, not competitors, to help educate local small business owners on how to get funding to grow their businesses,” explained Everett K. Sands, CEO of Lendistry. “We’re passionate about small business at Lendistry because we believe in the power of small business to strengthen communities and build local economies. Events like this prove how integral small businesses are to their communities.”

The Center will continue to offer Access to Capital programs throughout southern California, as well as additional workshops on marketing, sales, and financial management.