Who We Are
Blueprint Investment Fund, Inc. is a 501(c)(3), US Treasury Department certified Community Development Financial Institution with a mission to alleviate poverty, chronic unemployment, and economic inequality in Louisiana's urban and rural centers. We encourage entrepreneurship by providing micro financing to disadvantaged small businesses located in areas in need of revitalization or that are committed to hire low to moderate income residents. Blueprint helps small businesses get started, grow and create jobs in their community and empowers entrepreneurs across the state of Louisiana.
Articles of Incorporation
IRS Determination Letter
Board of Directors' Biographies
Lawrence Williams, President
Lawrence Williams earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola University New Orleans in 2000. After graduation, he served as an Executive Fellow in the Office of Governor Gray Davis, State of California. Following this one-year appointment, he returned to New Orleans to serve as a political appointee to New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin's administration. As Program Manager for the New Orleans Brownfields Program he oversaw the city's efforts to rehabilitate multiple contaminated commercial real estate projects in the New Orleans metro area. In 2010, Lawrence joined Blueprint Investment Fund's board of directors and currently serves as the organization's Board President and Chief Executive Officer. He is responsible for over-seeing and advancing Blueprint's vision, ensuring that its programs are professionally designed, adequately resourced, and achieve the desired results. Lawrence is responsible for the administration of the micro loan and development program, fundraising and overall operations for the organization.
Isaac Williams, Vice-President
Isaac Williams earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in computer science from Southern University New Orleans. His education gives him a firm foundation in technical analysis and computer applications and he uses those skills to help our clients use technology to improve their processes. Additionally, Isaac’s work history includes project management for a general contractor. In this role, he fully managed the light construction projects from the initial bidding process to completion. His project management experience helped him refine his time management skills because he was responsible for preparing the bids, cost analysis, and each step of the process from start to finish. Isaac’s educational background and work experience is a strong asset to our clients.
For 15 years Isaac has gained invaluable experience as a telecommunication technician with extensive project management, service/installation and computer networking. The telecommunication industry is highly competitive and it requires its technicians to have a strong grasp for details and good listening skills. Isaac’s philosophy is that in any industry, customers tend to tell you what they need but in an indirect way. He helps train our clients to anticipate their customers’ needs and match them with services that accomplish their goals.
Lauren E. White, Secretary
Lauren E. White earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Communications from Loyola University New Orleans in 2002. She has a plethora of experiences and qualities that she is able to share with Blueprint’s clients; some of the services, advice, and recommendations she offers to Blueprint's clients include Marketing, Public Relations, and Social Networking. She also has experience in graphic design, photo editing, and layout and design. Lauren also provides in-class instruction on relevant and/or requested topics. Lauren has the ability to take on many projects (and types of projects) at once and shares her impeccable planning, execution, and multitasking abilities with our client base. In past years, she has been hired to plan and execute projects, market a restaurant, design advertising campaigns and brand companies, present at conventions and conferences, and much more. Lauren has a proven track record of creating new professional contacts and links for business through marketing and social networking.
LeKesiah Washington, Tresurer
LeKesiah has over 20 years of experience providing tax and accounting services to businesses and individuals. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Southern University New Orleans. In 2008, she founded her private accounting practice after a number of years in the industry. She is an experienced expert in personal and business taxation and in representing taxpayers before the IRS and state tax authorities. She provides our clients with professional auditing services.
Michelle Burton Oatis
Michele is the co-owner of CupCake Fairies LLC and New Orleans Video Voices. As a lifelong resident of New Orleans, she received a B.A. from Dillard University. She has over 17 years of experience as a public school teacher and is the Co-Founder of two businesses, the New Orleans Video Voice and CupCake Fairies.
Benardett earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from Syracuse University in 2006. Upon graduation, she traveled to Austria to conduct electrochemical research for the National Science Foundation. In early 2007, Benardett worked on Capitol Hill conducting research for healthcare legislation. In late 2007, Benardett worked for the New Orleans Mayor’s Office of Health Policy & AIDS Funding and she is the founder, CEO of Senica Naturals, a New Orleans based body products company.
(504) 407-5804 (New Orleans Metro Area)
(888) 559-0995 (Outside GNO Metro Area)
What's Our Purpose
Blueprint Investment Fund's mission is to alleviate poverty, chronic unemployment, and economic inequality among residents living in areas of Louisiana in need of revitalization and/or small businesses that are committed to hire low to moderate income residents. We restrict our lending to Louisiana populations in severe, personal economic distress.
Our economic development activities focus on...
• Low-income, disadvantaged, minority and women entrepreneurs who otherwise might not have access to resources and technical support to launch their businesses
• The unemployed and underemployed by launching and nurturing businesses in niche commercial markets holding growth potential by creating jobs and creating the means to access such jobs
• Louisiana residents to be served who live in neighborhoods and areas confronting conditions of deterioration, and/or in need of recovery or revitalization by generating capital investment and income growth through the creation of businesses that otherwise will not exist and/or be sustainable enterprises.
Whom We Serve
Micro Lending Program
Blueprint Investment Fund, Inc is a nonprofit economic development corporation. We provide micro loans of up to $35,000 to entrepreneurs, which can be used for working capital and acquisition of materials, supplies, furniture, fixtures and equipment. Our micro loan repayment terms are set between a 5-8% interest rate. Blueprint originates, underwrites, processes, closes and services interest-free micro loans to low-income and disadvantaged micro enterprises. Blueprint considers new or existing Louisiana businesses physically located in a US Housing & Urban Development (HUD) designated Empowerment Zone/Renewal Community a priority for the micro loan program. HUD defines a Empowerment Zones and Renewal Communities as highly distressed urban and rural communities that may be eligible for a combination of grants, tax credits for businesses, bonding authority and other benefits. Highly distressed refers to communities who have experienced poverty and/or unemployment based upon definitions in the law.
Private Equity Program
Blueprint is a non-profit economic development corporation that leverages private, state and federal economic development resources that bring businesses, technologies and jobs to communities under served by traditional venture capital. Blueprint’s typical initial investment ranges from $100,000 to $500,000.
Q: What does Blueprint Investment Fund do?
Blueprint is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, economic development organization that provides capital to disadvantaged small business under served by traditional bank financing and venture capital. Blueprint has a special focus on low-income, unemployed/underemployed, minority and women entrepreneurs.Part of what makes Blueprint so unique is that we offer fully subsidized micro loans to disadvantaged small business owners.
Q. What is a micro loan?
Micro loans are small loans ($35,000 and under) for start-up and/or newly established small businesses.
Q. What is a "subsidized" micro loan?
Blueprint's mission is to provide low-interest micro loans to disadvantaged small business owners. Blueprint is a 501(c)(3) public charity, thus we are able to secure corporate/government grants and to collect individual contributions to subsidize our client's loans.
Q. How does Blueprint define a "disadvantaged" micro enterprise?
Blueprint restricts its micro lending program to micro enterprises owned by members of an economically disadvantaged group, such as women, minorities, physically/mentally disabled and the unemployed/underemployed.
Q. What is a micro enterprise?
Blueprint uses the SBA definition of a micro enterprise. SBA defines a micro enterprise as a small business that employs less than five (5) people including the owner. However, Blueprint does not use the five employee number as an absolute restriction but merely as a guide.
Q. How long does it take for Blueprint to approve a micro loan application?
Normally it takes up to 30 days for an applicant to obtain full or conditional approval for a micro loan.
Q. Do I need the best credit score to qualify for a micro loan?
Blueprint does not heavily weigh an individual applicant's personal credit history to determine creditworthiness for a business loan. However, Blueprint must secure any appropriate business assets, personal guaranties and personal assets as necessary to collateralize the loan.
Q: Where was Blueprint founded and headquartered?
Although Blueprint is headquartered in New Orleans, LA, we fund business anywhere in the continental US (excluding Hawaii and Alaska).
Q: Who owns Blueprint?
Blueprint Investment Fund is a certified public charity and we operate as an independent, non-profit economic development corporation with its own board of directors.
Q: Who works for Blueprint?
Blueprint's management is comprised of economic development, finance and investment professionals.
Q: Is it a government organization or a private business?
Blueprint Investment Fund is a 501(c)(3), non-profit economic development corporation with a charitable mission. It is neither a government agency nor a private for-profit enterprise.
Q: What are the primary funding sources for Blueprint?
Blueprint receives its funding from multiple sources. Blueprint participates in the US Small Business Administration Micro Loan Intermediary program. This program enables Blueprint to borrow government funds to operate its micro lending program. Moreover, corporate/government economic development grants and individual contributions are the primary funding sources for Blueprint’s operations, private equity investments and technical assistance program.
Q: What kind of companies is Blueprint looking to work with?
Blueprint welcomes any type of a micro enterprise. However, we grant funding priority to micro enterprises that are physically located in an area considered an Empowerment Zone and Renewal Community as defined by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Additionally, we strongly encourage applications from business owners whose principal applicant meets the National Minority Supplier Development Council definition of a Minority Business Enterprise.
Q: Does Blueprint charge a company or an individual a fee to use its services?
Yes and No. Blueprint Investment Fund is organized for charitable purposes. Consequently, Blueprint does not charge fees for its technical assistance services we provide to our clients; however, Blueprint does charge a $300 fee to cover underwriting costs and we charge interest on the loans we issue. Blueprint funds its operating costs from individual contributions, interests payments and corporate/government grant funding.
Q: Does Blueprint focus on any particular types of businesses?
Blueprint funds companies that fit into the SBA micro enterprise definition, regardless of its industry. However, Blueprint strongly encourages applications from entrepreneurs that are at least 51% owned by a woman or are 51% owned by an entrepreneur who is African-American, Hispanic- American, or Asian-American. We do not restrict our services solely to women and/or minority groups but we are strongly committed to including these groups in our financing portfolio.
Q: What is your website's privacy statement?
This privacy notice discloses the privacy practices for http://blueprintfund.org. This privacy notice applies solely to information collected by this web site. It will notify you of the following:
1. What personally identifiable information is collected from you through the web site, how it is used and with whom it may be shared.
2. What choices are available to you regarding the use of your data.
3. The security procedures in place to protect the misuse of your information.
4. How you can correct any inaccuracies in the information.
Information Collection, Use, and Sharing
We are the sole owners of the information collected on this site. We only have access to/collect information that you voluntarily give us via email or other direct contact from you. We will not sell or rent this information to anyone.
We will use your information to respond to you, regarding the reason you contacted us. We will not share your information with any third party outside of our organization, other than as necessary to fulfill your request, e.g. to ship an order.
Your Access to and Control Over Information
You may opt out of any future contacts from us at any time. You can do the following at any time by contacting us via the email address or phone number given on our website:
* See what data we have about you, if any.
* Change/correct any data we have about you.
* Have us delete any data we have about you.
* Express any concern you have about our use of your data.
We take precautions to protect your information. When you submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected both online and offline.
Wherever we collect sensitive information (such as credit card data), that information is encrypted and transmitted to us in a secure way. You can verify this by looking for a closed lock icon at the bottom of your web browser, or looking for "https" at the beginning of the address of the web page.
While we use encryption to protect sensitive information transmitted online, we also protect your information offline. Only employees who need the information to perform a specific job (for example, billing or customer service) are granted access to personally identifiable information. The computers/servers in which we store personally identifiable information are kept in a secure environment.
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