Building bridges for LGBTQ entrepreneurs
Small businesses strengthen their communities, but many face challenges financing basic overhead expenses. These challenges can be compounded for entrepreneurs who encounter unique barriers to loans, networks or resources.
With Moody’s Analytics Small Business Lending Solutions, our goal is to help make the borrower experience easier. We work with financial institutions to create capital opportunities for small businesses, identify and develop digital solutions to help them secure the capital they need, and empower them with education and resources to attain their strategic goals. In 2018, the team from one of our San Francisco offices took a closer look at how they could use our resources to support small businesses in their own backyard.
“We wanted to give our members a new channel to work with the local community, to get more involved and feel more part of the San Francisco community,” says Brett Manning, co-chair of Moody’s LGBTA Employee Resource Group (ERG).
The LGBTA ERG partnered with the Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA), which had previously reached out to learn more about our credit-scoring work. Founded in 1974 as a chamber of commerce for the LGBTQ community, the GGBA endured many of the same challenges its members faced, and still face to this day. As an advocate for LGBTQ businesses, the GGBA creates opportunities for marketing, networking, procurement and referral-based business growth; promotes business skill development and expertise through workshops and seminars; and works toward positive economic, social and political change.
As we considered how best to partner with an organization with such an important legacy and mission, we focused on the unique tools we could offer the small business owners of the GGBA.
Putting CashFlowTool.com to work
“Small business owners face challenges that are a little bit different from those of larger business owners,” says John Baer, managing director in Moody’s Analytics Enterprise Risk Solutions Group. “For these entrepreneurs, time is one of the most important resources. We help by bringing efficiency to the small business loan process, which in turn creates greater financial opportunities for all small business owners.”
Two years ago, Moody’s Analytics partnered with and invested in Finagraph, a fintech startup,to develop time-saving financial tools that would help small business owners stay on top of their day-to-day work. Finagraph’s product CashFlowTool.comidentifies and seeks to eliminate cash shortfalls as the reason that small businesses fail. CashFlowTool.com reads a business’s accounting software to forecast trends in cash flow, such as upcoming bills or when business owners will need money in their accounts. We incorporated Moody’s Analytics’award-winning MARQ™ portal and credit score into Finagraph’s CashFlowTool.com, which helps banks better assess risk when entrepreneurs seek a loan.
MikeMilan, Finagraph’s executive vice president of customer success, says the collaboration has been a rewarding relationship for both companies: “Between what Moody’s Analytics brings to the table and what Finagraph brings as an agile, small company,this is a partnership that could really make a huge difference for small and growing businesses.”
In June 2018, we invited GGBA members to participate in an engaging complimentary workshop, led by Milan, to learn how to use CashFlowTool.com, and we offered them a free six-month trial. Feedback from the participants — all LGBTQ small business owners — was positive and encouraging.
“Moody’s Analytics staff have challenged us to think outside the box in order to ensure the needs of our members are truly being met,” says GGBA board member Paul Pendergast. “Their team encourages innovation, ownership and measurable results.”
A deeper commitment to inclusivity
The workshop was just the beginning of our deepening relationship with GGBA. In November 2018, we hosted a panel discussion where GGBA board members were able to share stories from their 45 years of serving the LGBTQ community in San Francisco.
“It was 40 years to the day of Harvey Milk’s assassination, so it was quite profound to hear the story of people who were interacting with him at that time and who were working on developing businesses around the Castro [district of San Francisco],” says Manning.
Even though significant progress has been made in the past year, we know there is much work to do. “We believe in inclusivity and want to support the diversity of the economies that we participate in,” says Baer.“While the plan is to start here in San Francisco, we see the reach of this partnership expanding to GGBA’s sister groups in Seattle, Austin, Denver and Los Angeles, eventually spreading throughout their western alliance or even the national network.”
We are proud that this year’s collaboration with the GGBA sparked so many powerful connections, and we are excited to see where our partnership leads.
“We wanted to give our members a new channel to work with the local community, to get more involved and feel more part of the San Francisco community.”
LGBTA ERG CO-CHAIR, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, MOODY’S ANALYTICS
“Moody’s Analytics staff have challenged us to think outside the box in order to ensure the needs of our members are truly being met. Their team encourages innovation, ownership and measurable results.”
BOARD MEMBER, GOLDEN GATE BUSINESS ASSOCIATION
“Between what Moody’s Analytics brings to the table and what Finagraph brings as an agile, small company, this is a partnership that could really make a huge difference for small and growing businesses.”
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, CUSTOMER SUCCESS, FINAGRAPH
“We believe in inclusivity and want to support the diversity of the economies that we participate in.”
MANAGING DIRECTOR, MOODY’S ANALYTICS