Taylor Beard: 2015 Future Leader Award
Sometimes it is in doing the most unlikely things that we find our passions and callings in life. For Taylor Beard, it was as simple as finding an internship in her last months of college.
“It wasn’t something I was looking for,” says Beard of the internship she received at Nasha Lending, then a start-up ministry of Grace Church. The goal was simple: to provide micro-lending—no-interest loans to under-resourced youth and adult entrepreneurs.
For Beard, the internship stuck. Because she was overseeing Nasha lending, she saw the potential early, and eventually stopped looking for a new job altogether.
Today, with Nasha Lending now its own non-profit under the umbrella of Mill Community Ministries, Beard helps make micro-loans to entrepreneurs who would otherwise be unable to secure traditional loans.
“We’ve funded teenagers, individuals with criminal records, individuals with bankruptcies in their past…” Beard says. For many entrepreneurs, she says, “we are that first step in the program. We’d love to launch our people into the financial sector…but we are that first baby step.”
The first loan comes from crowd funding—allowing the public to play a part in validating a local start-up business. And because the program is cyclical in nature—borrowers must pay back the loan in full before taking another one, and that payback goes immediately to another entrepreneur—Nasha is finding success in being the “ ‘micro’ of micro loans.”
“For someone who donated $20, that $20 has been loaned out two and a half times by now,” Beard notes.
But lending is only one part of it of what Nasha is providing to entrepreneurs. The organization also serves to connect entrepreneurs with other organizations specializing in helping entrepreneurs, creating a web of communication that benefits the community as a whole. It is through this network that the entrepreneurs who get loans from Nasha find advice and guidance that will help them as they grow and thrive.
While not her initial goal, Beard has quickly become an entrepreneur whose passion is to help other entrepreneurs putting her on track to really become a force in the Greenville and Upstate community.
And her ultimate goal? To see Nasha thrive, and to play a part in growing the local business community.
“I’d love to see Nasha Lending grow,” she says. “Entrepreneurship is the best thing to support the economy, and it’s a great way for individuals to grow and support themselves in their families.
“Entrepreneurship is the means to change lives and to change communities. For us to be a part of that—to help individuals that may not have otherwise had that chance—that would be a dream come true.”