CDFI: Demopolis Federal Credit Union
Loan type: Small-business loan
Coleman practically grew up in his father's barbershop in Demopolis,
Alabama. After his father retired, he wanted to open up a barbershop
of his own. "What I wanted to do was try to offer some employment
for people who probably didn't want to go to college or couldn't go
to college. This would give them a way of bringing their economic level
up, and hopefully would affect their families' lives as well."
Harrison was finally able to get a bank loan for construction for the
barbershop, but this loan did not include funds to buy the barber chairs
and carpeting essential for the functioning of the shop. The bank was
not willing to increase his loan amount. But at the Demopolis Federal
Credit Union, Harrison was able to get the money he needed.
"The thing with the credit union is that these people are people
you know, people you go to church with, people you talk to, people who
share the same interests and have probably felt the blunt blow of the
same things youve dealt with in your life. So when you put people
like that on the credit committee, they tend to look a little deeper
and they tend to look at ways of helping you, rather than ways of holding
out on you. And thats a big difference between the credit union
and the bank."
Harrison has hired and trained a number of young men to work as barbers,
some of whom have gone on to start their own shops. Coleman's Barbershop
has been very successful, and Harrison is currently opening a restaurant
nearby. While he is now able to approach commercial banks for his new
ventures, he is still an active member of the credit union, and believes
it plays an essential role in his community.
"I think the credit union has probably the greatest potential for
growth of any institution in this area because so many people have fallen
through the cracks, and those people need a way to get started again.
The banks are about people who are already established. At a bank, there's
a group of directors who pretty much dictate the flow of the money.
At the credit union, you're actually borrowing from yourself and you
have a voice in what you do. You have a vote as well. Anytime you go
to a credit union you realize that, once you become a member, you're
actually a part owner in that facility."
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