Commercial Real Estate
How Lendistry’s Everett Sands helps all business owners access capital
The Lendistry CEO and President discusses how the company is creating economic opportunities for underserved business owners.
The latest addition to our Changemakers You Should Know series features a conversation with Everett Sands, CEO and President at Lendistry, a fintech and Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that provides economic opportunities to underserved small business owners.
Nicole Williams, Vice President of Intermediaries Lending at JPMorgan Chase, spoke with Sands about his company’s mission, culture and technology. Some highlights from their conversation:
- “A story of wealth and loss”: Sands’ grandfather achieved several firsts: He opened the first tailoring shop and trade school in Washington, D.C., in the 1930s, and he was the first Black American to receive a government contract from the U.S. Army. But Sands’ grandfather also received bad advice regarding access to capital and taxes, which hurt his business. The story of his grandfather’s tailoring shop motivated Sands to create Lendistry.
- Tech tools available 24/7: Many entrepreneurs don’t have time to work with banks during business hours. For example, after working all day, a single parent may need to balance cooking dinner, playing with the kids and even setting aside a little personal time before focusing on company financials. Lendistry’s proprietary platform is always available. The team also examines data to see where customers get stuck in the process and creates educational videos to help guide them.
- Meeting business owners where they’re at: Lendistry focuses on the specific needs of each client because not all businesses need the same things. Restaurants may require a specific type of financing, while healthcare providers often have trouble with collections. “We’re trying to think about the user experience from a technology perspective, the user experience from an education perspective,” Sands said. “Then how do we help engage you with people that maybe look like you, are in the same industry and you can relate to?”
- Addressing systemic barriers: Lendistry knows systemic credit practices are lopsided and often a hurdle for minority entrepreneurs, especially Black ones. To address this issue, Lendistry uses different approaches to credit evaluation. For example, the company uses technology to gain a more complete picture of entrepreneurs and is working with State Small Business Credit Initiative programs’ resource allocation.
- Building a caring company culture: Sands believes people provide a competitive advantage. He pointed to the company’s work with Paycheck Protection Program loans as evidence. Initially, Lendistry was only permitted to lend up to $250,000 to businesses in California. The team wanted to do more and wrote a letter to the Small Business Administration, which rejected their request. After six more letters, however, the company was able to grant loans up to $10 million nationwide. Thanks to its determination and client focus, Lendistry has lent upwards of $8 billion to more than half a million businesses across all 50 states.