• 50%

    Time saved per loan closing
  • 4x

    Loans processed after digital transformation

Allies for Community Business (A4CB), a nonprofit community financial development institution located on Chicago’s West Side, knows that small businesses play vital roles in building healthy, vibrant communities. Yet starting a business isn’t easy, especially when promising business owners don’t have access to capital or startup expertise. That’s where A4CB comes in.

A4CB offers grants and loans to entrepreneurs throughout Illinois and Indiana, helping individuals with the capital, coaching, and collaboration they need to get started and grow their businesses. They prioritize Black, Hispanic/Latinx, female, and low-income small business owners who typically face barriers accessing capital through traditional means.

Last year, when the pandemic accelerated the need for small businesses to access emergency capital, A4CB needed to quickly pivot to meet the demands of their clients. In order to do that, they would have to offer a fully digital—and ideally mobile—solution, as well as significantly cut loan processing time. 

How? A complete digital transformation. This would allow A4CB to do business remotely while also adding capacity to help more business owners. Ensuring a smooth agreement process, protecting against fraud, satisfying audit requirements, and keeping client data safe were top concerns.

Just-in-Time Digital Transformation with DocuSign

A4CB turned to DocuSign eSignature and DocuSign ID Verification, part of the DocuSign Agreement Cloud, to help reach its goal of moving to a digital loan processing model, including electronic signing and remote identity verification of signers. 

The financial nonprofit had historically conducted much of its business in person. Staff would drive to meet with clients and manage considerable paperwork for each client transaction. When A4CB decided to digitize their operations, they turned to DocuSign to help them implement a trusted platform that combined electronic signing with identity verification.

Once DocuSign eSignature and DocuSign ID Verification were in place, the gains were immediate. A4CB went from closing an average of 30 loans per month to 125 loans per month, a 4X increase. 

During the height of the pandemic, A4CB was closing and funding 400 loans a month, a drastic increase in demand that they were able to meet thanks to new digital processes. 

Loan officers were no longer driving to meet with clients in person once operations became remote, which saved hours per loan. In addition, much of the manual paperwork that A4CB staff previously managed was eliminated. Instead, A4CB used DocuSign’s branded templates to help loan officers quickly prepare and re-use the documentation needed for clients, without having to re-create new loan agreements on the fly.

We went from taking 30 minutes to process each loan to 15 minutes per loan. That cut our process time in half, giving us the ability to more than double our output.
Joan Galaviz
Manager of Capital Operations
Allies for Community Business

Because everything was digital, loans became easier to track and manage. And being able to proactively follow each step in the loan process without needing to manually review piles of paperwork or scroll through files, measurably accelerated A4CB’s time to close. There was also far less paper file storage to maintain, which saved physical space.

“We went from taking 30 minutes to process each loan to 15 minutes per loan,” says Joan Galaviz, manager of capital operations. “That cut our process time in half, giving us the ability to more than double our output.”

DocuSign ID Verification Proves You Are Who You Say You Are   

The transition to electronic document signing also enhanced security and audit controls, with DocuSign ID Verification providing the critical step of verifying signers’ identities. 

“We needed to show our auditors that we are taking all security measures necessary to avoid any kind of fraud. This became especially important when we were no longer able to meet clients in person,” says Galaviz.

An added benefit: Loan recipients are now able to sign documents online at their convenience, and submit a driver’s license or passport for identity verification via an intuitive mobile interface using their own devices. This gives them more time to focus on running their businesses instead of coordinating in-person meetings. 

Expanded Capacity Creates More Opportunity

With DocuSign eSignature and DocuSign ID Verification, A4CB was able to meet its immediate goals of operating remotely and safely during a pandemic.

But the more far-reaching results? Digital transformation empowers A4CB’s business-critical operations for the long term, delivering a simplified customer experience, enhanced business agility, and unbroken business continuity.   

Digital transformation also helps move A4CB solidly toward its long-term goal of expanding capacity to help more small business owners than ever before.

“We see an incredibly high demand for capital from underserved businesses right now,” says Jackie Blair, A4CB director of marketing and communications. By continuing to refine their own digital processes and create more efficiencies internally, A4CB hopes to be able to offer more funding, coaching, and collaboration to an ever-growing pool of entrepreneurs. “We want to continue serving as many people, and helping as many communities as we can.”