Women entrepreneurs offered source of capital through $10 million initiative

Early-stage women entrepreneurs in Las Vegas have a new source for low-cost business loans to apply for after the Tory Burch Foundation and Bank of America launched the $10 million Elizabeth Street Capital initiative.

In Las Vegas, the initiative will work with the Nevada Microenterprise Initiative in partnership with Los Angeles-based Valley Economic Development Corp. Loans will be administered through nonprofit entrepreneurial loan centers, known as Community Development Financial Institutions or CDFIs.

“We are excited for this,” said Leanna Jenkins, interim director of the Nevada Women’s Business Center, a partner with the Nevada Microenterprise Initiative. “It’s a great opportunity. We are the only CDFI in Nevada given the opportunity to participate.”

The loans will support low- and moderate-income communities. Besides offering low-cost loans, the program also offers mentoring support and networking opportunities to women-owned business in an effort to create clusters of female entrepreneurs.

Jenkins said Thursday the mentoring dates have yet to be scheduled. She said the ultimate goal is to help female entrepreneurs in Southern Nevada be successful.

She expects the average Elizabeth Street Capital loan to be about $8,000. According to the Nevada Microenterprise Initiative website, loans of up to $100,000 are available for startup and existing businesses at 8 percent to 10 percent interest rates with five-year terms.

“I’ve already started getting (applications),” Jenkins said. “The best thing about this job is to work with all these entrepreneurs.”

Jenkins said they’ve kept the process simple. Loan applications are online at www.4microbiz.org. She advised downloading and completing the application before sending it to the Nevada Microenterprise Initiative.

“I’ll set an appointment so we can review the loan package before we submit it,” Jenkins said. “We are so excited for this opportunity.”

Jenkins said it’s still too early to know the amount of the average business loan.

The Elizabeth Street Capital initiative has received additional funds for operating expenses from TBF and Bank Of America. Besides Las Vegas, the initiative will also initially support women entrepreneurs in Boston, Charlotte, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

The initiative will expand to additional markets over the next two years.

“When we started our foundation, we understood that women entrepreneurs need access to capital as well as access to business networks, and by partnering with Bank of America we are … providing help to women,” said Tory Burch, founder of TBF, in a statement.

Burch, 47, said the combination of loans, mentoring and networking expertise will open up more opportunities for women business owners.

The program is named for the location of her first Tony Burch boutique in New York City. Burch has built the company into a women’s apparel and accessories empire with $1 billion in annual sales and more than 2,000 employees in some 120 locations in 50 countries around the world.

Tony Burch operates two stores in Las Vegas and sells women’s clothing and accessories through Neiman Marcus.

The Tory Burch Foundation launched in 2009 to support women-owned businesses. The foundation provides small-business loans, mentorship and entrepreneurial education.

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at csieroty@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @sierotyfeatures on Twitter.