Natalie Egan had a vision, and everyone she knew thought her plan was foolproof. She would take her experience coaching gymnastics to reach a new generation of athletes on a grander scale
Everyone liked the idea, except for the ones she sought out for help with financing.
“When I went to get the first loan, it was like, ‘Oh, my gosh. I’ve been to every bank in town.’ Nobody was giving me money,” Egan said. “They laughed at me when I sat down, even though I had a good plan.”
Rejection could have ended her dream, if not for PeopleFund.
A nonprofit based in Austin, Texas, PeopleFund creates economic opportunity and financial stability by providing access to capital, education and resources. It primarily focuses on entrepreneurs in underserved communities.
Not only did PeopleFund help Egan and her husband, Randy, fund a business, it provided tools to sustain what soon became Jump! Gymnastics, a robust program focused on preschool gymnasts.
“They were passionate about working with kids,” said Amber Kani, Director of Advancement and Education for PeopleFund. “They leveraged our business advisors and staff for marketing guidance, and then the capital to open not one but two locations. So they are working with children of all ages to build motor skills, learn teamwork, and what they do is great – and it’s so much more than just gymnastics.”
Regions Bank works with PeopleFund to help small businesses succeed.
We rely on community leaders who have that business knowledge and that extensive network. Regions has walked with PeopleFund each step of the way as we’ve grown across Texas.
Amber Kani, Director of Advancement and Education for PeopleFund
“What PeopleFund has provided for Regions is opportunity to invest in an organization that’s helping the small-business community,” said Terry Wade-Ottley, a Texas-based Community Development Manager at Regions. “Not everybody can come to a Regions Bank as a conventional loan applicant. So what Regions does is look for opportunity to work with a community development financial institution.”
PeopleFund’s goal is to be the premier nonprofit lender in Texas. But success hinges on a relationship beyond funding.
“It’s really a great – I call it a partnership,” said Gary Lindner, PeopleFund President and CEO. “It’s not a lender or borrower, it’s a partnership between us and the school. We’re very understanding about the challenges people face, so every loan we make is a loan to a business that would not qualify for traditional financing.”
Now, instead of coaching 12 gymnasts at a time, Natalie Egan works with up to 700, thanks to Jump! Gymnastics’ staff of coaches.
“It’s just a win-win relationship,” she said. “I think it’s great that someone’s got your back, and, if you’re struggling, they’re going to step in to help you.”
Partnerships like the one between Jump! Gymnastics and PeopleFund impact communities. And that’s the value Regions sees in getting involved.
“For PeopleFund to be able to have the vision of the small-business owner, provide them with the capital that they need at the right time – not only is it good for Regions’ long term, it’s fantastic for the entire community as a whole,” said Allan Rayson, Austin Market Executive for Regions.
Both Regions and PeopleFund see the relationship continuing to evolve in the future – helping more businesses and communities, alike.
“As a nonprofit – especially as a nonprofit community lender – partnerships are critical to what we do,” PeopleFund’s Kani said. “We rely on capital. We rely on community leaders who have that business knowledge and that extensive network. Regions has walked with PeopleFund each step of the way as we’ve grown across Texas.