During her service, Peace Corps Volunteer Rachael Saler taught Filipino women to crochet discarded plastic bags into colorful handbags and change purses as a way to engage local communities in business ventures, and teach environmental awareness and recycling. Since the Bag-O Plastic project launched in August 2010, more than 100 women from Bago City in the Philippines have sold 200 bags, earning 63,000 pesos (about $1,500).

For each bag that is sold, the woman who crocheted it receives 80 percent of the earnings. The other 20 percent goes toward the purchasing of zipper, runners, tags, etc. Each woman collects, segregates and washes plastic bags to be crocheted and sold. Women have also begun exchanging plastic bags for rice with other merchants and started plastic-bag collection bins in local commercial areas.

Rachael, who holds a master’s degree from Columbia University and a bachelor’s from Syracuse University, credits her mother for the Bag-O Plastic idea. When her parents visited in 2009, Saler’s mother told her to consider crocheting recycled plastic bags into handbags. Rachael was so inspired by the project she extended her Peace Corps service for a third year to continue it. She completed her Peace Corps service in December 2011.

Loan Officer position, DC

Job Title: Loan Officer

FLSA Status: Exempt Position

LEDC Synopsis: The Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) is a private, non-profit 501©(3) community development corporation founded in 1991. LEDC’s mission is to drive the economic and social advancement of low- to moderate-income Latinos and other D.C. area residents by equipping them with the skills and tools to achieve financial independence and become leaders in their communities.

Position Summary: One of LEDC’s most important services to small businesses is our micro-loan program.  LEDC currently lends up to $50,000 for small or emerging businesses unable to obtain financing from mainstream banks.  The goal of the program is to provide first step financing to promising entrepreneurs increasing their capacity to create wealth for their owners and economic opportunity for the communities they serve.  Many businesses in low-income parts of the city are unable to grow for lack of capital.  We provide financing to such businesses, helping cleaning companies, carry-out restaurants, hair salons, and the like to start or grow their businesses.

Essential Job Duties/Responsibilities:

  • Develops, Evaluate and Present to the credit committee loan recommendations for existing and prospective customers.
  • Negotiate to properly structured and priced loans consistent with the LEDC’s credit policies and lending practices.
  • Prepare effective packages for credit approval circulation and to present packages to the required level of credit authority.
  • Maintain close customer contact to ensure continued satisfaction, and to follow or anticipate additional financing needs.
  • Monitor and report changes in credit quality.
  • Attend loan closings to ensure loans are properly closed.
  • Effectively track portfolio quality of his/her portfolio including contact clients with past due payments
  • Ensure that LEDC is in possession of current financial information and that the information has been properly analyzed and on file, and that proper and complete credit files are on hand.
  • Participate on  promoting LEDC products and services
  • Believes in and promotes the LEDC values, mission and culture, both internally and externally.
  • Responsible for the total customer relationship.
  • Develop LEDC pre and post loan technical assistance for lending clients

Education and Experience Qualifications Required:

·         Bachelor’s degree, preferably in Accounting or Finance.

·         One or more years of experience with a commercial  lender

·         Strong verbal and written communication ability and organizational skills.

·         Proficient on computer skills using Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point and Outlook.

·         Good level of interpersonal and social skills needed to interact with customers or prospective clients.  Good time management skills

·         Hands on experience working with small business owners

·         Bilingual (English/Spanish), and culturally sensitive

·         Demonstrated commitment to working with low income communities

Salary and Benefits:

·         Salary is commensurate with experience, qualifications, and salary history.   

·         Benefits are competitive within the DC area:  compensation currently includes 3% 401K matched savings plan, healthcare plan with ZERO employee contribution, 10 observed holidays, and 4 weeks of vacation per year.

To apply, send cover letter and resume to Leda Hernandez at No telephone calls please

To learn more about LEDC visit

LEDC is an equal opportunity employer; and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or sexual orientation.



“You go into the shop and - you know - you cut yourself, you burn yourself, you fuck stuff up, you - like, you know - ruin something you’ve worked on for three weeks.  And you never make that mistake again.  So this is how I learned.”


Peace Corps Volunteer Works with Beekeepers in Ghana to Generate Sustainable Income through Honey Sales

“Through the training, we hope to teach community members about establishing bee colonies and sustainable harvesting practices. Eventually, we’d like to produce enough honey to provide some to the school-feeding program at the local primary school, which contributes to childhood nutrition within the community.” - Peace Corps Volunteer Molly Rooney

Small Business Loan Officer positions, NYC and Seattle

The Grow America Fund is seeking to fill two positions for Small Business Loan Officers.   The Grow America Fund, Inc, (GAF), a subsidiary of the National Development Council, is a CDFI, a national SBA 7(a), PLP, non-bank lender.  GAF has a portfolio of approximately 150 loans with an average size of $350,000.  GAF actively conducts business in approximately 25 different client communities throughout the US and has ambitious growth plans.  


 Loan Officers are responsible for marketing, sourcing, evaluating and underwriting the SBA 7(a) loans in the various client communities.  The Loan Officer works under general supervision of the GAF Chief of Credit, exercising significant latitude in the use of initiative and independent judgment in the performance of his (or her) responsibilities.


One position will be located in Seattle and the second position will be located in New York City.  The job involves weekly travel to visit potential borrowers and to attend internal meetings of staff and management.


Develop and maintain referral sources for prospective small businesses located within the client communities and in need of financing, Interview and screen prospective loan applicants to determine if minimal loan qualification standards are met,Assist potential borrowers find alternative financing resources if they do not qualify for the GAF program, Gather data necessary to complete application package and source documents for credit analysis of all qualified applicants, Perform credit analysis and underwriting functions for qualified applicants, Structure financing packages to match potential borrower needs using in matching sources and uses of funds as well as repayment terms, Prepare and present loan reports to the GAF credit committee, Negotiate any remaining loan structuring elements and issue commitment letters, Assist loan closing officer with preparation of closing documents, liaison with attorneys and SBA and gathering of final documents required by the particular type of SBA loan being closed, Assist portfolio management with servicing issues and borrower relationships during the entire life of the loan, including but not limited to modifications of collateral, site visits, annual reviews, SBA audits workout plans and liquidations.


Experience and Education

Bachelors degree from an accredited four-year college or university with major course work in finance, business administration, economics or a related field, Minimum five years of experience in commercial banking, business or community lending.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

Strong analytical, time management and organizational skills as well as a high level of attention to detail, Effective written and verbal communication skills with the ability to be persuasive one-on-one as well as in a group setting, Knowledge and experience in program and task management, Ability to work effectively with community-based organizations, banks, CPAs, small businesses, entrepreneurs and public sector administrators, Impeccable personal integrity and ability to maintain confidentiality of borrower data, Computer literacy in contact management, word processing, spreadsheet and database programs. 


To apply, submit a resume to by July 15, 2011.  


Director of Lending position, Duluth, MN

Director of Lending


The Entrepreneur Fund, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of high-skilled entrepreneurs in the region, provides direct financing and support services for entrepreneurs in Northeast Minnesota and Northwest Wisconsin.  The Director of Lending is responsible for leading the growth of the loan fund, overseeing all aspects of loan operations, and managing the portfolio. 


With beginnings as an industry-leading micro lender, the Entrepreneur Fund is looking for the right candidate to grow its high performing portfolio from $3.2 million in 2012 to $8 million by 2016 through focused strategies to become a leading small business lender. 


The Director of Lending aligns lending operations to meet the strategic goals of the organization and is responsible for meeting goals related to loan growth, earned revenue, mission fulfillment, and portfolio management.  Experience in small business lending operations, the ability to work in a high performing team, and a desire for innovation and continuous improvement to meet social and financial goals will be critical for success.



Key individuals interested in this position should have:

  • 5+ years experience in and comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of small business lending required.  Community banking or economic development lending experience preferred.
  • A passion for responsibly meeting the financing needs of regional entrepreneurs.
  • Experience with executing and selling SBA 7a loans and the ability to introduce new lending products.
  • 3+ years experience in a management role preferred.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of commercial business underwriting and overall portfolio management.
  • Knowledge of best practices in restructuring, delinquency, and collections.
  • A proven ability or desire to lead teams and work cross-functionally to meet customer needs and organizational goals. 
  • A positive, results oriented attitude.
  • Strong communication skills with a desire for leadership.
  • Systems thinking for driving growth strategies.
  • A desire for innovation.
  • An ability to integrate technology to improve efficiencies and communication.
  • Demonstrated track record in lending, in this region, is preferred.


Interested applicants should submit their resume to or mail to Carmen Beardsley, Entrepreneur Fund, 202 W. Superior Street, Suite 311, Duluth, MN 55802.  Position is open until filled.