Citigroup Banks On Small Business

Major financial institution commits $115 billion in loans and investments

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Citigroup, the product of the merger between Citicorp and Travelers Group, has made a 10-year, $115 billion commitment to lending and investing in low- to middle-income communities and small businesses. The pledge is more than double Citibank’s $56 billion in domestic deposits.

Bill Landers, a Citibank vice president and business and professional sales director in leading Citibank’s minority- and women-owned business initiative, says most start-up businesses, from retail to import/export companies, can qualify for loans. The amount of loans distributed will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis as requests come in. Interested businesses will be required to fill out an application, including a financial statement for the previous two years, and meet with their local Citigroup branch representative and acquisitions relations manager. An acceptance or rejection will be issued within three to five business days for loans under $250,000, and within 10-14 business days for loans over $250,000.

Landers says the purpose of the pledge is to increase the economic development of communities. Citigroup is subject to the community lending requirements of the Community Reinvestment Act. Under them, it will steer funds into small business and consumer lending, mortgages and community development lending, investments and grants.

John S. Reed, Citicorp chairman and CEO, says, “Our commitment is focused on a wide array of lending and services aimed at supporting low- and moderate-income families and neighborhoods. We believe this commitment is key to our business success.”

Citigroup also plans to increase the availability of commercial insurance coverage while providing special pricing to low- and moderate-income customers. Currently in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C., Travelers’ four-year-old Urban Availability of Insurance program will add as many as six new cities over the next two to three years. The program:

  • Recruits, trains and mentors minority insurance agents.
  • Educates small business owners and consumers about insurance through seminars and advertising.
  • Offers small business insurance products and a 25% discount for loss advisory services (to identify and reduce unnecessary risk to businesses and reduce their insurance rates).
  • Provides risk management services and products to nonprofit organizations.

In addition, business owners can take advantage of a new initiative Citigroup will launch within one year: the Center for Community Development Enterprise. The Center will lend and invest $6 billion over the next 10 years in local communities for small business and job creation, and affordable housing and financing for nonprofit community facilities such as child care centers.