From Bicycling to Lending

Elizabeth Bejan. Photo: J. Long

As someone who can easily take her bicycle out for a fun 60-mile ride, Elizabeth Bejan is well-known in the local cycling community. Now as a loan officer for the Women’s Business Center in Fairway, Kan., where she has been working for about six months, she uses her business acumen to help other entrepreneurs.

Bejan and her bicycling enthusiast friend, Theresa Van Ackeren, the owner of Family Bicycles in Waldo, were co-founders of a nonprofit called Revolve in 2011. Revolve takes used bikes, refurbishes them and sells them at reduced prices or for free to those in the “Earn a Bike” program who take bike-safety classes. https://www.revolvekc.org/

The original location for the shop was 51st Street and Troost Avenue, and it was there for six years before moving to 5509 Troost. Revolve has also had a Strawberry Hill location for four years.

“I got it all situated into a better working environment for my successor,” Bejan said.

Before starting Revolve, Bejan had worked in area banks as a loan officer and with other financial programs.

Elizabeth Bejan at the Women's Business Center in Shawnee, Ks. Photo: J. Long

In her new position, she said, “I do micro-loans for start-up businesses. A micro-loan is in the category of $5,000 to $50,000. Of course, in my position with the Women’s Business Center, we do focus on women, but are certainly not exclusive. One of the 15 loans that I’ve done was for a man.

“It’s for folks that cannot get funding from traditional banks. For that reason, our guidelines are a little bit more flexible, what we can use for collateral, or what we consider for the credit score. We will take a true start-up and support them.”

Bejan mentioned that she helped local singer Amanda Hughey, who is well-known in our LGBT community, with her small business loan. “She is composing original songs for people’s special occasions, weddings, commercials, things like that,” Bejan said.

She said that interest rates on these loans can sometimes be higher than with a traditional lender, sometimes ranging from 8 percent to 12 percent, because they are working with people who might not have qualified for traditional loans.

“But we provide all the ancillary services, like forming your business plan and projections, and we can bring in minority and women-owned business certification. So we have all the other supportive services during that time to really get businesses on a solid financial footing.”

Bejan said she relies on networking for developing contacts.

“We’re the resource for a lot of banks,” she said. “From banks to KC SourceLink. I just got a referral from a SCORE mentor, people that have retired from the business sector. This particular loan that I was closing today was referred to me by a SCORE mentor.”

Kansas City is hot right now for entrepreneurs, she said.

Bejan mentioned that her associate in the office, Judy Bumpus, conducts training programs for new businesses. Bumpus will teach a seven-week evening course on Sept. 17 and 24, Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 and Nov. 5. The classes will be held at 4747 Troost Ave., Room 210, Kansas City, Mo. To sign up, email jbumpus@kansascitywbc.com.

Bejan said they also have networking events for women-owned businesses called WE-Connect “Cocktails and Conversation” Networking Events. Their next events are:

Oct. 4, Sunlighten, 7373 W. 107th St., Overland Park, Kan.

Nov. 29, CBIZ, 700 W. 47th St, Kansas City, Mo.

Elizabeth Bejan encourages women-owned businesses to reach out to her if they are looking into loans for existing or new businesses. The Women’s Business Center is at 4220 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Suite 350B, in Fairway, Kan. Bejan can be reached at 913-777-8057 (cell) or 913-492-5922 (office). For more information, visit http://kansascitywbc.com.

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Joe Eats World

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