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Not every business will succeed but they all deserve an equal opportunity to get started. According to the Census Bureau, the average amount of capital required to start a business is $30,000.  Yet, there are significant barriers to accessing seed capital and oftentimes people will turn to friends or family to loan them money to start their businesses.  Frequently this is not an option for African American entrepreneurs due to a staggering racial wealth gap.  African American median household wealth is $11,000 compared to $141,900 for White Americans*.  That begs the question: “How can more African Americans find seed money for their startups?” 
Introducing The Runway Project, a national initiative that began in 2016 with the goal of solving the ‘Friends and Family’ seed funding gap for African American entrepreneurs.  The project works to fix the broken infrastructure surrounding African American entrepreneurs by providing early stage funding and holistic business support as a wealth-building strategy. 
The program’s first loans were deployed in 2017, and to date, the project has funded nine entrepreneurs, for a total of $157,000.  Self-Help Federal is the financial partner on this project, and we are privileged to be a part this collaborative effort that goes right to the heart of our mission of Economic Opportunity for All.
Here’s how the project works:
Project Runway Table

To learn more about the project, click here.  If you are interested in supporting this work to close the racial wealth gap for African American entrepreneurs in the Bay Area, please email Annie McShiras at

 Read on to meet Vicktor Stevenson, one of the nine recipients of a Runway Project loan.

*Source:  Prosperity Now, ”The Road to Zero Wealth”, September 2017
Member Vicktor Stevenson's Story
Vicktor Stevenson holds his baby outside of his Gourmonade kiosk in San Francisco.
In the middle of a New York winter Vicktor Stevenson and a friend were griping about the bad weather. Vicktor told his friend he wished he was sitting anywhere but there, drinking a nice glass of lemonade. The idea wouldn’t go away. And one day, Vicktor woke up at 4 a.m., sat at the kitchen table and sketched out a business plan that would consume the next two years of his life.
After years of pop-ups and catering events, Vicktor had an opportunity to lease a kiosk in San Francisco, California, where he could offer fresh bottled lemonade. He was concerned about his ability to receive a traditional loan due to lack of exposure to basic banking and finance concepts. Vicktor connected with Uptima Business Bootcamp, a network of member-owned business accelerators offering classes and business advising services to freelancers, small business owners and startup founders. Uptima introduced Vicktor to the Runway Project Oakland, and through these partnerships, Self-Help Federal made a $20,000 loan to Vicktor to secure his lease. The grand opening took place on July 17, 2018. The shop is called Gourmonade and sells guessed it...lemonade! Congratulations to you, Vicktor!
Self-Help Federal's 10-Year Anniversary
On July 11, 2008, Self-Help Federal Credit Union received its charter from the National Credit Union Administration. At that time, the country had entered a tough recession.  Some credit unions in California – many doing the critical work of serving communities with few, if any, responsible financial institutions – had already suffered losses that threatened their stability.  We feared others might follow.  Self-Help set out to build a financially strong credit union that could partner with other credit unions to preserve, then grow, these critical community-focused institutions. 
Ten years later we stand at 315 staff across a network of 27 branches – 17 in California, 9 in Illinois, and 1 in Wisconsin – to serve our 79,000 members.  Collectively members have entrusted us with $850 million in deposits and the opportunity to provide a range of financial services.  Most important, we are able to continue the legacy of our branches by lending to our members to purchase their first home, obtain an automobile, consolidate expensive loans, build credit scores or expand a business or non-profit.  We’ve extended 45,000 loans totaling nearly $1 billion in these 10 years, and hope that we have helped build better financial futures and stronger communities in the process.
Whether you are a member – depositor and/or borrower – a partner, ally, supporter or friend of another kind, we thank you for your continued trust and support.  Here’s to another decade! 
  • For decades, low-income residents of West Oakland, California had no options for affordable financial services. With great determination to meet community needs, People's Community Partnership Federal Credit Union brought financial access and opportunity to this community. Watch the video here.
  • Mark your calendars! Our Annual Meeting will take place on November 8, 2018, in our Modesto, California branch, beginning at 5:30 PM, followed by a celebration of the community and our members. More details will be posted on our website and sent out to our members at the end of September with their statements.
  • Effective August 1, 2018, Daryl Newell will serve as President of Seaway, a division of Self-Help Federal Credit Union. Read more.
  • Thank you to the MacArthur Foundation for their support in the work we do in Chicago. On August 22, the foundation announced a total of $26 million in grants and low-interest loans it will give to support community-led solutions in Chicago. This includes a $15 million low-interest loan to Seaway, a division of Self-Help Federal Credit Union. #ChicagoCommitment.
  • Do you want to talk to a financial counselor about improving your credit score or managing your debt? Or just receive a financial "check up" to see how you're doing and get a little help planning your financial future? Call BALANCE and speak with a certified counselor for free at 888-456-2227. Learn more about the free financial counseling services available to all Credit Union members and their families.
  • Sprint LogoAll Self-Help Federal Credit Union members receive a $100 cash reward for every new line. Find out more.
  • Career Opportunities. Do you like what we do at Self-Help Federal? Interested in joining our team, or know someone who might be? Click here for a list of our current job openings.
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Self-Help Federal Credit Union
1970 Broadway, Suite 350
Oakland, CA 94590

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