Geraldine Okwuonu B.S, PharmD always dreamed of owning her own pharmacy rather than work for others. When the opportunity presented itself to run pharmacy NuPathways RX as her own, she needed a business loan to help support that dream, but she didn’t think a bank could help. “No matter how unique you are, it’s really hard to get financing from a bank as a new small business,” she said.
She was manually reaching out to banks and getting discouraged. “By submitting my RFP on the Bridge built by Citi platform, I was able to kill a million birds with one stone. I just did it to see, and it worked. It was really easy, really simple. Not like the traditional bank process I was raised to expect.”
Okwuonu connected with loan service and underwriting specialist Patrick Dixon from NCRC Community Development Fund, a CDFI based in Washington D.C., and felt she found the right lender for her. “Their mission was aligned with my business’s mission.”
Dixon says that the way Okwuonu described NuPathway RX’s purpose in her RFP stood out to him when evaluating whether to reply with indicative loan terms. “I thought a pharmacy that is working on serving the underserved population – it would be great to work with them. I thought that we could help them. [NCRC CDF’s] mission is to bridge the racial wealth gap particularly in black communities, but we really serve all entrepreneurs and all businesses regardless of race.”
Once Dixon and Okwuonu connected via the Bridge built by Citi platform, the process continued smoothly. “They kept me updated regularly,” said Okwuonu. “Weekly at the start. They never left me out of the loop. I absolutely would not have found them without Bridge. The portal gave me hope, as cheesy as that sounds. It opened a huge door for me.”
“Without the Bridge built by Citi platform I’m not sure we would have connected,” says Dixon. “But when I saw their RFP, seeing the need and the opportunity we had to make an impact, I thought it would be a great company to work with.”
NuPathways RX received a $100,000 term loan from NCRC CDF and the business is using the funds to continuing serving its community in New Jersey.