Partnership aims to aid very small businesses

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A partnership between Somerville and the “microfinance” lender Accion USA is making it easier for residents in the city’s less affluent neighborhoods to run their own businesses.

Accion, a nonprofit that provides loans as small as $500 to entrepreneurs that might have trouble securing funding from banks or other conventional sources, has been working with small Somerville businesses since 2003. But thanks to money the city received through the Community Department Block Grant program, Accion is able to offer not just financing to small businesses but also tutorials on matters such as credit, taxes and budgeting.

“Sometimes you don’t only need a loan; you also need to become skilled with money management,” said Maria Ortiz Perez, Somerville’s business development specialist.

The partnership with Accion USA, whose regional office is just across the Somerville line in Boston, is primarily geared toward East Somerville and Union Square, neighborhoods with large immigrant populations. Accion USA, whose parent organization first entered the microfinance field in Brazil in the early 1970s, offers services in Spanish and Portuguese, in addition to English.

Among the Somerville enterprises to receive financing from Accion are a beauty parlor, a café, a child care business operated out of a home, and an English language school.

Written by MMA Associate Editor Mitch Evich