Lake Trust Credit Union ($1.9B, Brighton, MI) dove into member business lending not long after its creation through a merger of equals in 2010. Since then, the cooperative has built a healthy MBL portfolio and expanded its business services into checking, treasury services, credit cards, and commercial real estate lending. In 2017, the cooperative became the first credit union to be named Michigan lender of the year by the Small Business Administration.
Despite the array of services, leaders at the credit union — which serves southeast and central Michigan — thought something was missing. So, in 2019, Lake Trust moved into microlending, providing small loans and guidance to entrepreneurs who might otherwise risk their personal credit or simply stay on the sidelines.
Using a CDFI grant of $975,000 to bolster reserves, Lake Trust has made approximately 50 microloans that average $20,000 to $25,000 each. Business owners — including landscapers, HVAC providers, photographers, plumbers, movers, truckers, pharmacists, solar solutions providers, and a sound and lighting specialist — have put the money toward vehicles, equipment, supplies, and other expenses.
continue reading »