An established minority-owned small business, Atlantic International Trading had done well over the years, growing to fill a 14,000 sf warehouse with $500,000 in paid inventory and employing up to 10 people. In the process, owner Billy Lam had become an influential leader in the Asian community, working his way up from washing dishes to helping mentor and support other local businesses.
The success of Lam's business allowed him to get financing from various banks until the effects of the recession also affected his bottom line. Restaurants and markets that were his regular customers were seeing fewer customers themselves so they bought less. Fixed costs for maintaining his business didn't decrease and cash flow took a hit. Billy sought help.
Colorado Enterprise Fund Involvement
After visiting another bank for a line of credit (LOC), Lam came to Bank of the West to talk with Trung Nguyen. They discussed his financing options. Nguyen contacted Alan Ramirez, Director of Lending at Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF), a nonprofit small business lending partner, about a LOC for Lam to help him through his current financial situation.
Ramirez works with minority-owned and other small businesses referred by banks when these enterprises don't qualify for traditional financing. He took a hard look at Lam's financial position, his track record as a small business, and his legacy in the local Asian community.
Since CEF’s lending mission is defined by flexibility, integrity and commitment to small business and community development, Ramirez provided Lam a loan from CEF's Healthy Foods Fund to help him stay in business and continue serving his community.
Nguyen was grateful to CEF for helping his client (now a Bank of the West customer) overcome this challenge and remain a strong contributing member of the Asian community, while retaining the jobs his business directly and indirectly supports.
"Billy is such a nice guy. I wanted to do something to help him," Nguyen said. Getting this loan from CEF was a “win” for Lam and his business, the bank, and the community.