Creating big impact for small businesses

January 19, 2022 Chelsey Sleator
From a small-town burger joint to a large financial institution, Adria shares why she's always loved supporting small businesses through her work.

Adria M. has always been inspired by small businesses, starting with her first job working at the only burger joint in her small town of Sonora, CA. From there she went on to pursue a degree in Political Economy with a focus on globalization from UC Berkeley where she learned how capitalism affects communities and people in different ways. A passion was sparked and a career in non-profit organizations focused on aiding small businesses followed.

“I’m always inspired by those that bootstrap their business and make their vision come to life,” says Adria.

After joining Schwab in June of 2021, based out of San Francisco, Adria continues to have big impact on small businesses in her role with the Community Development Group (CDG), where she partners with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to provide loans to small businesses. In addition to providing loans, CDFIs also play an important role in affordable housing, and neighborhood revitalization projects.

“It really is an incredible model. There are around 1,000 CDFIs nationwide,” explains Adria. “Schwab lends to the CDFIs and the CDFIs have the connection to the local communities. They know the communities more deeply and better than we do, and through this business model we are putting the trust in the community members.”

Members of Schwab’s Community Development Group go on a teambuilding hike at Temescal Canyon in the Palisades. (Pictured from left to right: Neha S., Adria M. and Alvin O.)

“It really is an incredible model. There are around 1,000 CDFIs nationwide,” explains Adria. “Schwab lends to the CDFIs and the CDFIs have the connection to the local communities. They know the communities more deeply and better than we do, and through this business model we are putting the trust in the community members.”

Recently, Adria and the CDG team had the opportunity to provide direct mentorship to small business owners. Adria worked with the founder of a subscription-based beauty box curated for women of color.

“It gave me a sense of satisfaction and excitement for her future,” explains Adria. “If we look at statistics for businesses in communities of color, there is a lack of capital. There is also a lack of a knowledge network. Women and people of color may not have the access to mentoring, so I was really grateful to have this opportunity.”

Looking ahead, Adria is excited to further expand Schwab’s CDFI network into the Dallas/Fort Worth area, to coincide with the relocation of the Bank headquarters. She’s also excited to continue to grow her relationships with her new colleagues.

“The team is extremely diverse in our professional and personal backgrounds. That allows us to do the best work. I’ve never been on such a passionate, driven, excellent team. I definitely see us growing and doing incredible things,” said Adria.