Brooklyn Business Center hosts Seoul Credit Guarantee Foundation

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Restoration’s Brooklyn Business Center (BBC) recently hosted Seoul Credit Guarantee Foundation, a delegation visiting New York City from Seoul, South Korea. The Foundation was in the city to study state and local programs aimed at improving outcomes for small and medium sized businesses. BBC helped organize a meeting with New York State's Entrepreneurial Assistance Program (EAP). The delegation met with Bette Yee, EAP Program Director, and representatives from five other EAP Centers from the metro area. 

The South Korean government-sponsored agency, also known by the acronym KODIT, provides support and capital to small and medium sized businesses in that country. KODIT is regarded as a stalwart in rebuilding infrastructure and promoting economic development in post-conflict economies. It also carries the distinction of being one of the world’s largest government-backed credit guarantee systems with a portfolio totaling $44 billion USD.  

Mr. Jinsoo Mun, Executive Director of the Foundation, asserted that BBC and the Foundation share similar challenges. Fast economic growth can spike rents, which causes small businesses to fail. While Seoul does not have the racial diversity of Bedford-Stuyvesant, their gentrification occurs primarily along class lines. Seoul Credit Guarantee Foundation facilitates financing by providing a guarantee, but they have encountered high failures rate among small businesses. BJ Handal, Deputy Director of BBC, shared some of BBC’s best practices such as in-depth evaluation of a client’s background, customized business and financial analysis, and innovative methods of raising capital.

Executive Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, Gordon Bell, discussed the history of Restoration and pointed out how BBC takes a personal approach to empowering their clients. “We help these small firms get the capital they need, but we don’t give it to them directly. We get them dressed up and ready to go to the dance – to get money. We do this in small, medium, and large-scale ways. The small way, get 10 of your friends to give you 50 bucks each. The medium way is a Go Fund Me or online fundraising campaign. The large way is when you are ready for a governmental or financial institution financing. Someone who is going to lend you up to $50,000. We have led clients through this process plenty of times” said Bell.

Bell brings his Wall Street experience to his role, but with the empathy of a next door neighbor. “Our competitive advantage is having committed, smart, and accomplished people, and doing deep-dive analytical work with our businesses. We have to do this carefully so that we don’t scare them off. True story, Barbara the Babysitter has a 35-child care center. She wanted to purchase more space to grow her business. We asked her different questions to figure out what the drivers of this business are. We refrained from offering Wall Street style business consulting advice and overwhelming the client. We engage with people, and do the necessary research on the market and industry. Barbara knows we care about her business. Between the three of us at BBC, we can cover a lot of aspects of a client’s business.”

The meeting was marked with a spirit of honest cultural exchange and resulted in a deeper understanding of business lending and counseling practices in other countries. With years of expertise and grassroots support, Restoration’s Brooklyn Business Center is proud to reveal the successes of our community to the world. Seoul and Brooklyn are united in many ways, the most important being their commitment in helping small business grow.         

Learn more about the Brooklyn Business Center

Brooklyn Business Center, Restoration CEO and President Colvin Grannum, and Seoul Credit Guarantee Foundation Korean staff