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Micro-lender Named 2016 SBA Washington Financial Services Advocate of the Year

Executive Director of Enterprise for Equity Takes Top Honors, Celebration Recognizing Winners May 4th at Museum of Flight, Boeing Field
Release Date: 
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Release Number: 
SDOPR 16-17
Contact: 
Matthew Williams, 206-553-7315

OLYMPIA - The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 2016 Financial Services Advocate of the year is Lisa Smith, Executive Director of Enterprise for Equity, a training and lending non-profit organization for low-income and/or high-risk entrepreneurs.

The Financial Services Advocate award recognizes individuals who advocate and promote small businesses above and beyond the call of their professional duties and assist small businesses through advocacy efforts to increase the availability of accounting or financial services.

“Ensuring small businesses have access to capital is one of the three primary areas on which the SBA focuses,” said District Director Nancy Porzio. “Lisa Smith is the epitome of what an advocate for small businesses should be. We are truly grateful for her work in the small business community.”

Enterprise for Equity helps people with limited incomes and others start and grow small businesses through business training, financial education, business builder workshops, and access to other programs now available in seven different countries in Western Washington. They have launched over 180 businesses that are up and running today.

They also offer micro-loans up to $25,000 for business start-up to people that wouldn’t otherwise be able to get financing; with loans as small as $1,000.   

“When these business owners hear their loan has been approved, they hear that someone has believed in them,” Smith said. “That’s an amazing thing to be a part of and make happen. It brings tears to my eyes.”

In addition to her regular duties, Smith has had multiple articles published; worked with local lenders to ensure the success of entrepreneurs that would have been otherwise turned away from financing; and brought the ‘Bank On Campaign’ to her area, designed to give people with low incomes and others who have had financial troubles a second chance bank account.

Smith also serves on the steering committee of the Thurston Asset Building Coalition and chairs the Economic Advancement Hub of employer and workforce partners.  

Since 2007, Smith has served as a Washington State Microenterprise Association (WSMA) board member, working with the WSMA Director and various staff and volunteers to help pass legislation that would ensure workforce agencies open self-employment training options for Workforce Investment Act (WIA) eligible applicants seeking self-employment services.

In 2012, Lisa Smith and partners worked to formalize the contracting process between Workforce Development councils and agencies that provide business training, financing and support for WIA-eligible people to use their training dollars for business and self-employment services.

Her commitment to her community both inside and outside of work is what helped her shine above the competition and earned her the title of 2016 Financial Services Advocate of the Year.

“National Small Business Week is a time to recognize the impact small businesses has on our country,” said Regional Administrator Calvin Goings. “It’s a chance to celebrate the dedicated, hard-working small business owners who are making a difference in their communities.”

Each year since 1963, the President has issued a proclamation calling for the celebration of National Small Business Week. SBA recognizes outstanding small business owners for their personal successes and contributions to our nation.