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Austin nonprofit aims to close racial wealth gap with loans to women of color

One woman was able to buy her first home thanks to local nonprofit company JUST, which gives loans to women of color.

AUSTIN, Texas — Isabel Arellano just opened the doors to her new home in Del Valle.

"I felt a lot of excitement," she said. "To me, it's one more goal that I have accomplished."

It was all thanks to Austin-based nonprofit JUST, which helps women entrepreneurs of color with loans.

"JUST gives capital to women entrepreneurs – anywhere from $750, or they can grow up to $15,000 – completely based upon trust," said Rashidah Alshams, the nonprofit's community growth and partnerships manager.

Alshams said JUST works to close the racial wealth gap for Black and Latino women in Texas, and the only thing needed for loans is trust.

"We don't ask for collateral; we don't assess your credit," Alshams said. "It's all about the fact that we're building trust in our community and want you to trust us as well."

Because Arellano is an entrepreneur, that meant a lot to her.

"Being an entrepreneur, I have different amounts of incomes every given month," Arellano said. "The personal loan with JUST gives me consistent income."

It's not only loans the nonprofit provides. It also gives the women peer support to help them in their financial or business journey.

"It's nice when you have a woman who's there, who's gone through the same things, and she can identify with what you've gone through and can really help you," Alshams said.

Alshams started as one of the first Black entrepreneurs that JUST worked with. She was able to open her own yoga and wellness company, Woke Yoga & Wellness in Austin, because of it. Now she wants to help other women like her.

"I think that's our dream, so that these women can really get to the next level in their lives, whether that's buying home or saving for their kid's future or just elevating their business," Alshams said.

For Arellano, she got to see that dream come true.

"I think if I have reached this goal, I can reach any goal and dream that I have for the future," Arellano said.

You can get involved by joining JUST.

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