97 - The Transformation with Watchen Harris Bruce of Baltimore Community Lending

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In this week's episode we have Watchen Harris Bruce, President and CEO of Baltimore Community Lending (BCL) in Baltimore, Maryland! They are a community development financial institution providing loans to small businesses and small to medium size real estate developers in under served communities in and around the Baltimore region. They have been around for 33 years and not only do they provide loans they also supply comprehensive training, mentoring, coaching, and technical assistance to help the businesses. Watchen grew up in a farm in Liberia with entrepreneurial parents, she came to the US in the 1980's to study in college and work at a bank. She shares how it was growing up in Liberia. We chat about the different loan programs BCL has available and how they offer below market flexible financing. She mentions great success stories from real estate and small business clients. Watchen talks about the importance of being patient with your clients and team, and educating all of the parties involved. We discussed how COVID affected most of their borrowers and they had to work together with some businesses to pivot, and at the end of the day they did not have a single default. She mentions how it is a team effort and the significant role different partnerships with other organizations play. In her free time she is always giving back to other community groups, boards, and faith based organizations. She loves helping people, entrepreneurs and seeing the transformation!

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