Félix D. Rodriguez posa con Clara Diaz en Rodriguez Meat Market en Hartford Avenue, Providence, después de recibir información sobre el Fondo de Préstamos Comunitarios de Central Providence.

Felix D. Rodriguez poses with Clara Diaz at Rodriguez Meat Market on Hartford Avenue, Providence.
Diaz, ONE|NB’s Community Engagement Specialist, says she loves going door to door
with information about the Central Providence Community Loan Fund.
Photos by Stephen Ide/ONE|NB

Businesses throughout the 02908/02909 zip code have started to see a friendly face walk through their door. Clara Diaz, a Community Engagement Specialist at ONE Neighborhood Builders, is visiting businesses and providing information about the recently established Fondo Comunitario de Préstamos de Providence Central.

The Central Providence Community Loan Fund is a community-led fund that provides low-interest loans for neighborhood and economic revitalization in Central Providence. The fund provides small businesses and nonprofits located in 02908 and 02909 zip codes with low-interest, flexible capital.

“I love this,” Diaz said, who seems to know a few people in the neighborhood. “Everybody knows me when I go around.” She added that going door-to-door with information about the loan fund is the only way they would know about it. These businesses don’t have time to go searching for information about the loan fund, she said. For many, it’s the first they’ve heard of it, and many are receptive.

Diaz traveled along a small stretch of Hartford Avenue on Wednesday, July 6, visiting meat markets, convenience stores, a liquor store, a tortilla shop, and a barber shop, among others. Most of the people she encountered were receptive to the information, she said. Some expressed interest for others they knew who hoped to establish a business.

Diaz explained that, while the online application is easy to fill out, additional help is available through appointments at the Bodega Biz on Manton Avenue.

Until recently, Diaz worked as a Rent Relief Specialist at ONE|NB, and now also is working on the recently adopted Participatory Budgeting process.

The loan fund, established in June, offers loans of from $1,000 to $20,000 at 2% interest for up to five years. Lending decisions are made by a committee of local residents and business owners, and no credit check or collateral are required. The loans are being administered by Providence Revolving Fund and ONE Neighborhood Builders.