Not all banks are the same. Not all bankers act the same. Those who know Rodolfo Medina, 42-year-old Second Federal’s CEO, know well that his mission has always been to support the Hispanic community.
For years, every day, he has arrived at his office in La Villita wondering, “Who can I help today?”
With this philosophy and solidarity, he has consolidated a profitable business that sets an example in times of crisis. Second Federal is one of the financial institutions that supports the smallest Hispanic businesses in Chicago affected by the economic disaster caused by the Covid-19.
Medina tirelessly works after midnight, sending emails with important information to small businesses introduced by the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC). Their strategic alliance has been a lifeline for many micro-businesses.
Dozens of small Hispanic businesses in La Villita and other Illinois communities had access to advising and capital.
I have known Rodolfo Medina for many years. He is always willing to help our community. The IHCC receives many calls from small businesses that are going through this crisis and we have found another extraordinary partner at Second Federal, who cares about listening and understanding. We care about those in need, for us, it’s a source of pride, says IHCC’s President & CEO Jaime di Paulo
PPP’s round two has allowed smaller lending institutions to process a greater number of applications for federal funds for their clients and even for those who are not.
Second Federal raise to the occasion and arranged its team to work with the IHCC as needed to make its services available to as many small businesses as possible.
A quick learning curve
When Congress approved the first round of assistance; most lenders did not receive precise instructions from the SBA.
There were many contradictions, confusion, the system seemed designed for only large banks to process grants to their most important customers.
“At first, for smaller institutions, it seemed we asked to build a plane while it was flying. It was an unstable start,” Medina says.
The demand exceeded expectations. The madness of calls was unleashed, but at first, many of the applications couldn’t be processed. Companies with 1 to 10 employees could not move at the same speed as companies with 300 or 500 employees, which had accountants, lawyers, and large banks helping them.
PPP’s first round of loans was a learning process for Second Federal. As we ran out of funds on April 14th.
By the second round, they were prepared: they managed to complete more than a thousand applications and provided efficient service to small businesses that needed these loans to survive.
Medina closed the commercial lending area temporally and almost 30 people in Chicago focused exclusively on serving micro businesses.
While some processed the applications, others helped clients with their paperwork, and others were responsible for closing the process with SBA’s established system.
Ninety-nine percent of the applications processed were businesses with 1 to 3 employees. Also, Second Federal is proud of supporting multiple non-profit organizations. Support with a social sense, which allows them to continue and serve the most, needed communities.
Eighty percent of Second Federal’s loans granted to Hispanic businesses and organizations were an average of $20,000. In some cases, credits exceeded one million dollars.
Together we are stronger
Medina distinguishes the IHCC as an invaluable ally, an organization with the connections of multiple companies that needed funds.
The IHCC works closely with all businesses and knows who needs it the most. They helped to prepare entrepreneurs so the application process ran smoothly, said Medina.
Second Federal recognized that without help from organizations like the IHCC they could not have achieved the huge number of applications processed.
A solidarity’ story
Second Federal, located in the heart of La Villita, began providing banking services to immigrants 140 years ago.
When the European population left the neighborhood and Hispanics arrived, many banks left. Second Federal stayed and helped the new community prosper.
This is the story of this community’s endurance and the remarkable value of the Second Federal’s legacy: https://player.vimeo.com/video/229612014
“Rudy”, everybody’s friend
Medina was born and raised in Little Village but spent his teenage years in Mexico. His career began at a TCF Bank branch located inside a Jewel Foods store on the north side of Chicago.
He joined Second Federal 12 years ago. He started as a manager at the same main branch. Today he is Second Federal’s president, which gained new life a few years ago, after the crisis that affected the industry in 2007, as part of a network of credit unions focused on serving low-income communities.
Second Federal sees the opportunity to fulfill its mission in serving the community, especially by focusing on an underserved market.
Open, transparent and direct, like all Chihuahua (Mexico) natives, Medina explains Second Federal is a bank that serves those who cannot get loans from traditional banks because of their credit history.
“Many Hispanics have credit problems, not for irresponsible reasons, they have been affected by economic crises that don’t depend on them. We are sympathetic to each situation and know how to differentiate between those who need it,” says Medina.
Educating to make dreams come true
Without the Second Federal’s help, thousands of Hispanic families wouldn’t be able to realize their dream of buying their first home.
As a credit union, they also provide the community with car loans and cover the immigrant’s high fees when applying for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program or start their residency process, a very expensive process.
Medina insists on educating clients to help them realize their dreams and his entire team works hard to achieve it. Also, preventing them from becoming victims of those who take advantage of people who don’t understand what documents say.
“Helping is the essence of our business. A customer, who feels supported, when in many places turned them down, will take care of their credit and that benefits all”