A capacity crowd turned out to the company headquarters of PPEP Microbusiness & Housing Corporation on Thursday, June 6, to celebrate a major award: The company was named the U.S. Small Business Association’s Microlender of the Year.
The luncheon was also an opportunity to celebrate the nonprofit’s new executive director, Yasmin Badri.
Badri, who founded a community microlender service of her own before assuming her new role, previously worked as a consultant with the World Bank and IMF in Washington, D.C.
Badri, who was born in Germany to Sudanese and Ethiopian parents, has also spent time as a media consultant for the United Nations and UNICEF in Khartoum, Sudan.
PPEP Microbusiness & Housing Corporation founder and current CEO Dr. John Arnold touched on the significance of the national award, which was the seventh one for the Tucson-based organization.
Arnold, who founded the nonprofit in 1967 as a way to help fund struggling farmers in rural Arizona, said the microlender award is proof that his team’s hard work is paying off.
“Every award that we’ve received, we don’t take lightly,” Arnold said. “And it also gives us an opportunity for us to present recognitions to our board, to our loan review committee, finance staff, and those that do the loans out in the field.”
The nonprofit’s primary focus is still on the rural, more agrarian portion of the state, serving as the intermediary loaner for 67 percent of Arizona, according to Arnold.
Arnold’s brainchild is one of two microlenders in the state, which are deemed a “lender of last resort” for low-income families and entrepreneurs by the SBA.
Arnold cited the organization’s stature as the first Community Development Finance Institution, as proof of their success over the five decades they’ve been in business.
“We see ourselves kind of being an incubator for small businesses in the state of Arizona,” Arnold said. “We are the ones that are grooming the future businesses by providing them with technical assistance and by providing them access to working capital, which are the two ingredients that you need to be successful.”
Badri, who assumed her new role with the nonprofit earlier this month, said receiving the Small Business Association’s award is rewarding on many levels.
“We’re so proud, and of course this is proof of the years of hard work and effort,” Badri said. “It means a lot for us. This is an effort that’s been done by the staff members and our whole team. I am new and won’t take credit for it. But I am so proud to be here and to be a part of this team effort and this accomplishment.”
Craig Jordan, who handed out the award on behalf of the SBA, praised Badri’s team for their ability to help those in the community that are trying to grow their fledgling businesses.
“Today’s ceremony means a tremendous amount because it’s actually a reflection of PMHDC’s hard work to create the infrastructure to provide underserved borrowers what they need to grow,” Jordan said. “Otherwise, they probably would not be able to get the capital needed to let their businesses grow. So, it’s just a celebration, both of their commitment to the community and to working in that underserved market.”
Badri is hopeful that PMHDC can continue its longstanding tradition of providing small business loans, affordable household financing and technical assistance training to rural Arizonans for years to come.
Her goal is to take what those before her have established and expand it into new directions, so PMHDC can help those in-need in Tucson and beyond.
“We’re optimistic and happy that we’re still on the map,” Badri said. “We’re still active and we are very proud to get that award today that enables us to help people in need for capital. So, we’re so proud that we are still going to provide them with more quality work, with what they need to help them out, and to help the community.”