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Community Developments Investments (April 2022)

PathStone Helps Puerto Rican Small Businesses Recover From Natural Disasters

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Javier Zapata, Executive Director, PathStone Enterprise Center

PathStone Helps Puerto Rican Businesses Recover From Natural Disasters
PathStone Enterprise Center provides financing to communities in Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria and other recent natural disasters. (Stock photo)

In Puerto Rico, as in many other federally declared disaster areas, the private sector and philanthropy are assisting in community rebuilding by supplementing funds provided by the federal government. Nonprofit and bank initiatives are aiding these recovery efforts to bolster small businesses and the local economy, focusing on the devastation caused by the recent earthquakes and hurricanes.

PathStone Enterprise Center (PECI), the community development financial institution (CDFI) affiliate of the nonprofit PathStone Corporation, has helped hundreds of small business owners on the island apply for federal, state (commonwealth), philanthropic, and nonprofit relief and aid programs. With seven sites across the island, PathStone leverages its experience, network, and resources to provide much-needed relief efforts on the ground. PECI has allocated more than $300,000 in grants to eligible small businesses since 2012. After the recent disasters, many of these grants were used to do repairs and buy inventory and new equipment. Additionally, PECI has extended more than $1.5 million in loan capital to small businesses, with an average loan size of $35,000 with the benefit of investments from such private financial institutions as Bank of America, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, and Wells Fargo.

PECI works in concert with a wide range of partners and collaborators to ensure timely, comprehensive, and client-directed relief aid. As an intermediary lender for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, PECI plays a key role in helping the federal government reach underserved people and places to raise entrepreneurial capacity and bring credit and capital to business enterprises. PECI works closely with other Puerto Rican CDFIs and organizations as the Small Business Development Centers, Centro Empresarial de la Mujer, and the various small business and workforce training facilities at the University of Puerto Rico.

A $250,000 start-up loan illustrates the benefit of this cooperation and PECI’s impact on the island’s economy after Hurricane Maria struck in 2017 and destroyed most of the power grid. In December 2018 PECI entered into an inter-creditor agreement with its partner, Rural LISC (a program of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation), to provide an additional $250,000 to help launch inverSOL, a company created to build solar-powered generators on the island. InverSOL could supply jobs and affordable electric power, particularly in times of service interruption. By midsummer, a new assembly plant began operations in Caguas, a town about 40 minutes outside of the capital of San Juan. Today, the 10,000-square-foot facility manufactures two solar generator models and plans to hire more people. PathStone is training and placing unemployed farmworkers in some of inverSOL’s new jobs and continues providing workforce development services to the firm and its clients as the company continues to expand.

PathStone has provided relief to businesses that suffered from a series of earthquakes in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. As a Paycheck Protection Program loan provider, PECI is helping small enterprises make repairs to their damaged businesses and meet their cash flow requirements. PECI has helped a number of enterprises meet the COVID-19 crisis with automatic loan forbearances. Most recently, PECI partnered with Rural LISC to provide grants to small and micro-businesses of $5,000 to $15,000 for a total of $300,000.

For further information, contact Javier Zapata at

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Collection: Community Developments Investments

  • Deputy Comptroller
  • Barry Wides
  • Editorial Staff
  • Karen Bellesi
  • David Black
  • Michael Carrier
  • Janet Fix
  • Hershel Lipow
  • Design Staff
  • Svetlana Bilenkina
On the Cover

Banks are partnering with community financial institutions and other local organizations to help communities across the nation recover from flooding, fires, other natural disasters, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Stock photos.

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