Allow us to introduce Melissa Santiago-Hernandez, our dedicated Portfolio Quality Analyst at Access Plus Capital. Her inspiring journey and unwavering commitment to our CDFI mission have made her an invaluable asset to our team.
Passion Born from Experience
Melissa’s journey is deeply rooted in her background and the challenges she observed within her community. Growing up in an immigrant household, she witnessed numerous individuals with big dreams who struggled to realize them due to a lack of resources, information, and support. This early exposure to the need for financial literacy and community support sparked her passion for change.
From Finance to CDFIs
Armed with a financial degree, Melissa ventured into the finance industry, only to find it to be a “cookie-cutter” world, driven by strict requirements and regulations. The conventional lending institutions often fixated on credit scores and overlooked external factors that could impact a person’s financial journey, such as life’s ups and downs. Melissa saw a different path when she discovered Access Plus Capital (APC).
APC’s mission aligned perfectly with her values. Unlike traditional lenders, APC takes a holistic approach, considering the overall character of a client rather than focusing solely on one metric. They go the extra mile to support their clients, providing them with resources to ensure success.
Empowering Dreams, One Client at a Time
Melissa’s role at APC is not just a job; it’s a mission. She believes in the power of making a difference, whether recognized or not. The most rewarding part of her job is witnessing the transformation in the lives of clients. It’s about knowing that she played a part in their journey, from the initial idea to the grand opening, and beyond. She has seen businesses grow, expand, and succeed, proving that APC’s approach works.
However, the job is not without its challenges. Some clients, burdened by past negative experiences with lenders, are skeptical about the kindness and compassion offered by APC. Changing their perception is one of the most challenging aspects of Melissa’s role. She and the APC team are determined to show clients that they genuinely care about their success.
Making a Real Difference
Melissa shared a heartwarming story of a client who faced financial difficulties and defaulted on their loans. Instead of the usual charge-off process, Melissa worked closely with the client to develop a repayment plan that would help them catch up and keep their business afloat. This is not just about lending but about empowering clients through communication, support, and technical assistance.
Advice for Aspiring CDFI Professionals
For those considering a career in the CDFI industry, Melissa’s advice is clear: Do it for the right reasons. In mission-driven institutions like APC, your work must align with your beliefs. It’s about genuinely caring for your job, making a difference, and being a part of something meaningful. You’ll learn, grow, and go above and beyond for your clients when your mission aligns with your goals.
Melissa’s journey, from her immigrant roots to her role at APC, exemplifies the power of passion and purpose. She not only enriches Access Plus Capital but also empowers individuals and communities to reach their dreams. Thank you, Melissa, for your unwavering commitment to our mission. Your story is a testament to the impact one person can make in the lives of many.