Leslie Van Pelt knew she wanted to do some type of work that improved people’s lives when she visited the Albuquerque offices of Comfort Keepers, a national for-profit company that provides in-home nonmedical care to the elderly and other adults recovering from illness and injuries. What she saw persuaded Van Pelt, co-owner of Cutlery of Santa Fe, to begin searching for funding to open a Santa Fe franchise.
Van Pelt already had a home equity line of credit, but she needed more money to launch the franchise. Her inquiries led her to The Loan Fund, an alternative lender that provides capital to businesses and nonprofits in New Mexico.
The Loan Fund received funding for Van Pelt’s loan from the New Mexico Small Business Investment Corporation, a state-funded program created in 2001 to provide financial support to small businesses that generate employment in the state. NMSBIC receives funds from the Severance Tax Permanent Fund and makes that money available through alternative lenders such as The Loan Fund that provide consulting to borrowers and manage the loans.
“I thought, if they’ll give me a loan, I’ll do it,” Van Pelt said about opening Comfort Keepers. They did — and she did.
Van Pelt opened the business with two employees in January 2010. Today, Comfort Keepers employs eight people, half of the loan has been repaid and the business is generating $500,000 in annual revenue.
Given the demographics of Northern New Mexico, Van Pelt expects that growth to continue. Her service area — which includes Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Espanola and Taos — has a large population of people over 65, and many live far from their adult children or other family members who might otherwise be able to visit and care for them at home. Her clients aren’t ready for nursing homes or assisted living quarters, but they do need company and help with errands and chores.
“There is such a great need,” Van Pelt said. The average client receives care from Comfort Keepers for eight months.
While her employees serve clients, Van Pelt takes care of marketing by visiting the places where new clients can be found – doctor’s offices, senior centers and other places where elders gather for social or medical services.
At Work Creating Jobs
Since its inception in 2001, NMSBIC has funded over 2,400 loans to New Mexico startups and small businesses, and these loans have supported over 5,800 jobs. NMSBIC has worked aggressively with alternative lenders to encourage them to make business loans in every part of the state.
Besides being the oldest and largest alternative lender in New Mexico, The Loan Fund is the largest lending partner of the NMSBIC, with $8.5 million in funds committed by NMSBIC. Funds from other entities give The Loan Fund a total loan capacity of $17 million. Since joining forces with NMSBIC in 2004, The Loan Fund has provided almost $20 million to over 380 businesses statewide on behalf of the state-funded program.
Many of The Loan Fund’s clients are referred by banks and other traditional lenders because they don’t fit the guidelines required by those institutions. The Loan Fund’s community development officers work with entrepreneurs to develop financing that’s tailored to their specific needs and resources.
Download Article 270_Loan Fund Helps Launch InHome Care Service PDF