As many women-owned businesses will tell you, a lack of capital is a significant hurdle to growing a business. Not knowing when or how to begin a capital journey, and being wary to take on debt are commonly reported barriers when women-owned businesses consider accessing capital. Read and hear about Dr. Sunitha Chandy, WBENC-Certified WBE and Founder of Artesian Collaborative, and her insightful and encouraging access to capital journey. 

Dr. Sunitha Chandy, WBENC-Certified WBE and Founder of Artesian Collaborative, a community focused mental health organization that provides therapy and training to individuals, corporations, and nonprofits, had concerns regarding her access to capital journey admitting, “I used to tune out when I would hear the phrase ‘access to capital.’ As a child of immigrants where debt is a four-letter swear word, I was staying as far away from it as possible.” That was until “a client had a shift in their payment system, so a 60-day payment term turned into 120 days.”

This change made her realize that even though payment was on the way, she needed a buffer to meet her short-term capital needs and did not want to cash flow the business on her personal assets. After attending a session focused on access to capital with her WBENC Regional Partner Organization, WBDC-Midwest, Sunitha decided to start gathering information about what her current bank offered. Before going to her bank to see her options for financing, however, Sunitha considered how much funding she needed and what she needed it for saying, “I didn’t want to end up in a situation again where I was awaiting a delayed payment and wanted to be ready with cash on hand for potential growth opportunities.” 

LIFT Financial Center of Excellence LogoAs she was working with her bank, Sunitha attended a WBENC LIFT Access to Capital session with Bridge, a digital platform focused on minimizing barriers WBEs face when accessing capital, and connecting businesses with a diverse group of 75+ lenders, including Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), and community banks, who share in their organization’s mission to support unrepresented business owners. In this session, Sunitha heard from the head of a CDFI who provided advice and context for a typical lending process and suggestions on how to find the right capital partner.  

Bridge Access to Capital Logo

After attending the session, Sunitha was able to utilize the Bridge platform to connect with a community bank, which prompted her to shift her strategy. The switch proved to be the right course of action for her and her business, noting “that the process was amazingly simple and moved much faster than I expected,” adding the importance of research and finding the right financial partner before you apply for capital.

Reflecting on the years of operating her business before external funding, she remarks, “when I started the journey to obtain a line of credit, I was really nervous about who to ask for help. The best thing I did in this process was to take the risk to start talking to other WBEs and small business owners about what I was experiencing.” 

Opportunities like the Access to Capital session with Bridge help to facilitate these connections for our WBEs, providing our network with the best opportunities for women owned businesses to maximize their growth by preparing them to access capital and connecting them with capital partners to be successful. 

Sunitha also says this experience has changed how she plans to operate her business in the future, remarking, “before we applied for capital, we funded our business through our profits.” She acknowledges that while this strategy worked well initially, it left the business without a sufficient cushion during unexpected economic shifts. “If we had applied for a line of credit during those good years, we would have still had our buffer to rely on,” she observes, underscoring the importance of strategic financial planning.

Now armed with capital, Artesian Collaborative plans to build a solid financial buffer and invest in expanding its workforce and “are excited about what we can continue to build with a firmer foundation.” Her company will continue to focus on increasing impact in the community, launching initiatives such as an internship program and developing infrastructure for additional services like Stress Management Workshops and Healing Circles. 

Mobile Phone with photo of Women Business OwnerIn conclusion, Sunitha notes partnering with Bridge and WBENC was a game changer in her mission to access capital, saying “Being approved for a line of credit has meant increased stability and established trust for Artesian Collaborative. Now when a payment is delayed or we have a growth opportunity that needs a quick response, it no longer feels like a scramble or anxiety.” The unexpected benefit, she notes, was the opportunity to establish a stronger sense of trust, not only in herself and her business processes but also with a bank that believes in the success of her business. 

Hear directly from Sunitha and learn more about her access to capital journey with Bridge!

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WBENC LIFT Financial Center of Excellence is an integrated education and funding program for women entrepreneurs to provide comprehensive financial support and resources, including education, coaching, networking and funding opportunities.

Learn more about Bridge in the upcoming WBE Financial Readiness Series, Session 3 “Access to Capital Thursday” brought to by Bridge, on June 27th from 2:00-3:00 pm ET.

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