Dr. Karen Semien-McBride, small business expert, came to VSEDC’s CDFI revolving loan fund for capital to scale her own company.

Sometimes those who help others need a lift too.  
Lifting up small businesses stuck in a rut of familiarity and routine is Dr. Karen Simeon-McBride’s specialty. Her expertise in training, assessing and shifting the mindset of South LA’s minority- and women-owned business community is why VSEDC began partnering with her and her company last year. MK Circle Enterprises provides VSEDC with our Core Curriculum – a comprehensive series of leadership and business classes for our community.  

Her CEO Institute curriculum brings an impactful small business series to VSEDC’s clients – the Legacy Program (now LevelUP), The CEO Series, and Mastermind. Clients who commit to the curriculum call the experience “life changing.” They learn about their personal operational style, how to identify their barriers, and how to shift their mindset so that their businesses thrive, grow, and in some cases become ready for significantly larger loans from traditional banks.  

Dr. Karen needed capital to meet demand 

The need for hands-on consulting and business education grew exponentially during and since the pandemic. To meet demand and expand her reach Dr. Karen needed capital. It was no surprise that one of her first stops was to VSEDC’s CDFI lending office.  

VSEDC’s CDFI revolving loan fund for minority-owned businesses 

VSEDC opened the only CDFI certified community lender in South LA in 2018. Our lending office gives affordable loans to minority entrepreneurs and small businesses, who typically cannot get a loan from a traditional bank lender. VSEDC’s CDFI revolving loan fund is made possible by generous grants from banks. In 2021 Wells Fargo was the first bank to grant us our largest gift ($750k) in the history of our organization to our CDFI. $600k went directly to the revolving loan fund, and $150k to operating the CDFI. That money is still being used today to fund minority-owned enterprises in Los Angeles, like Dr. Karen.    

The requirements for a loan at VSEDC’s CDFI are different from a traditional bank. They are set specifically to ensure equity and inclusion for minority- and women-owned businesses. With Dr. Karen’s wealth of experience, proven pedigree, and competent finances, she was soon approved for a low-interest loan for working capital and hiring.  

Expansion in her grasp 

With the money, Dr. Karen will be able to expand with services such as executive life coaching, hiring more business coaches to handle volume, and the creation of a certification program to become an agency to certify coaches. 

And that means helping more small business owners learn how to best run their business.  

This blog post was written by Corey Carleton and Theo Rouzan