Gold-Markel, who said his company also put solar panels on the Crane Arts building on North American Street, said he was turned down by at least five banks before getting help from Finanta.
"Without the role that Finanta has played in helping us incubate, we wouldn't be here," said Gold-Markel, who on Wednesday was in Massachusetts exploring a larger-scale solar project.
The bank funding, also provided by Citibank, Citizens, PNC, TD Bank, and Wells Fargo, originated in the Community and Economic Development Committee of the Urban Affairs Coalition, said Patrick Kelly, a Philadelphia-based Bank of America senior vice president for Community Reinvestment Act support.
"We started the process about two years ago in our effort to see how we could bring more capital and technical assistance to small businesses in Philadelphia," Kelly said.
Other cities have micro-lenders with larger capital pools making significantly more micro-loans, Kelly said. Micro-loans go up to $50,000, but can be as small as a few hundred dollars.
"In Philadelphia, we didn't really have it," Kelly said. The hope is that with the backing of the banks Finanta can become a citywide micro-lender, instead of being focused on a neighborhood, Kelly said. The payoff for the banks can be new business customers down the road.
The Urban Affairs Coalition committee contacted eight organizations about its desire to invest in micro-lending. Finanta was selected from those that applied.
Luis Mora, president of Finanta, said receiving the $322,500 would let the organization make better use of its own $750,000 loan from the Small Business Administration and a $125,000 grant from Philadelphia's Commerce Department because it will make more of the federal and city money available for loans to small businesses.
Leslie Benoliel, executive director of Entrepreneur Works, another Philadelphia micro-lender that applied for the banks' money, said the financial support was needed to build lending capacity in the city.
"We're only scratching the surface," she said.
Contact Harold Brubaker at 215-854-4651 or email@example.com.