Small Business Week | Interview with Small Business Loan Officer Miguel Ortiz-Aldana

Small Business Week | Interview with Small Business Loan Officer Miguel Ortiz-Aldana

Can you introduce yourself? 

My name is Miguel Ortiz Aldana. I’m the small business loan officer here at CommunityWorks. I was born in Florida, and for the past 15 years I’ve been here in South Carolina. I grew up in a small town called Chesnee. From there, I graduated from USC Upstate with a Bachelor’s in business administration, majoring in finance and economics, and now I am here at CommunityWorks.   

When did you start working for CommunityWorks, and what brought you here? 

I started here in mid-February. CommunityWorks really stood out when I was job hunting. It was a nonprofit that was goal-oriented. I said, ‘let’s give it a shot’ and see if they need someone like me: someone who speaks four languages- English, Spanish, French, and German. But really someone who understands community firsthand and how hard it is to get funding. 

What kinds of clients do you enjoy working with the most? 

I definitely enjoy working with the startups. They usually have these very out of the box ideas. But you know, the best part to me is that they have this idea they’ve been dreaming about their entire lives. One of the major roadblocks that they have is funding. So that’s where I get to step in and get to know them a little bit more, make good connections, and hopefully help them out in the future. 

Can you walk me through what the process looks like for a small business owner to get a loan from CommunityWorks? 

For our loan program, we ask for a couple of things. Initially, there’s two main phases. So the first initial phase, we need a photo ID; two years of taxes, preferably the most recent ones; a list of your personal expenses that you use in your household, and an authorization that lets us do a soft pull on your credit, so it doesn’t show up on your credit report. We will also ask about the business, whether it’s ongoing, if it’s a startup, as well as demographics.  

What are some ways that CommunityWorks supports small businesses beyond lending? 

After one gets approved for a loan, we help them with what we call technical assistance.  Our business support officer will check in with you every month and see how everything’s going. If you have any issues with your business, he will definitely help you with that. Whether it is accounting, a marketing issue, or just managing your business, he will do everything in his power to help you out.  

What are some resources that CommunityWorks has for people who aren’t necessarily ready for a loan? 

If we do decline someone, we have something called a Credit Builder, which is a secured savings account that goes up to $1,000. What you do is you make payments on that over a year. And if you do that and attend one of our financial wellness sessions, you’ll get credited up to $500. It not only helps with making income and shows credit history, but it should boost your credit score as well. It will help you get approved for loans in the future. 

What do you think makes CommunityWorks different from other lenders? 

We like to set our standards fairly, so that everyone has an equal chance of funding and an equal voice. Whether it’s a small $25,000 loan, or if you have this big dream of say, a bakery that will come out to $200,000. We’ll do everything in our power to make it as fair as possible. 

What advice would you give a small business owner? 

Most importantly, make sure you have a plan. Not everything has to be perfectly planned, because things can change. You’re able to adapt, follow through, and have that discipline to keep pushing, even though your business is struggling. Having that discipline is when you know you’ll have a successful business.



Interview Conducted by: Madi Coggin