The opportunity to address the persistent problem of unequal access to credit for women is why PNC began partnering with the global nonprofit Coralus (formerly SheEO) in 2021. Coralus’ signature offering is a no-interest loan for women entrepreneurs whose businesses are also tackling one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
But for the entrepreneurs who receive the loans, it’s not all about the money. Even more valuable is the built-in coaching and supportive community that comes with the loan package.
Kelli Goshay recognized this added value in the first call with her peer cohort after learning that she and her business, Neighborly Hands, had been selected as one of six U.S. companies in 2023 to become a Coralus Venture and recipient of a no-interest loan.
“I didn't know anybody else was having the same struggles with a business that I was having, but when the other ladies talked about the challenges they have meeting payroll sometimes, I felt that,” shared Goshay. “I've never missed a payroll, but I worry all the way up until the date, and it was such a relief to know that it’s not just me.”
In addition to her peer Ventures, Goshay has a transcontinental community of Coralus Activators to lean on. Activators are women who want to support women entrepreneurs. They fund the no-interest loan pool for Ventures and also vote to select the loan recipients and prop them up with encouragement, advice and connections.
Goshay’s Story Spoke to Activators
Origin stories like Goshay’s are why Coralus Activators write checks to participate.
Kelli Goshay, CEO and founder of Neighborly Hands, stands with Jonathan Thrasher, her Minority Business Development relationship manager at PNC. Thrasher shared information about the Coralus Ventures program for which she eventually would be selected.
Neighborly Hands is the service that Goshay wished she and her mother had when they were caring for Goshay’s ill father. In fact, Goshay, a registered nurse and former health care executive, wrote the business plan for Neighborly Hands at her father’s suggestion before he died. When her only sibling subsequently passed away suddenly and then her mother was diagnosed with cancer, Goshay’s vision for Neighborly Hands solidified.
“A lot of times the role of family caregiver falls to the adult daughter, and they're already balancing their own families and kids and work. In my case, I had just gotten this executive position with the Veterans Affairs Hospital (VA), and I found myself having to choose between work or doing my duty as an eldest daughter. There was no one else to help. And I thought to myself, ‘how many others must be in this same situation?’” explained Goshay.
“As a nurse, I’ve taken care of many patients, but I didn’t really understand what’s involved in caring for someone at home until I went through it myself.”
As a result, Neighborly Hands provides comfort and quality care for people at home so their loved ones can go to work, rest assured that their family member is safe. To offer a range of services, from companionship and meal prep to personal care and transportation to medical appointments, Goshay contracts with a wide array of specialists – from nurses to nail technicians – for home repairs and tasks.
This mission resonated with Coralus Activators.
The day after Goshay tendered her resignation from the VA to focus full-time on the business, Coralus called to say that the Activators voted for Neighborly Hands to advance to the second round of the Venture funding selection process. For Goshay, it was a sign of affirmation.
“When they called the second time to say that I was an actual Venture, I couldn't believe it,” said Goshay. “I'm just grateful. I had lost a lot of joy with the loss of my family, and the confidence and support that I’ve received from the Coralus community has really helped me through the grieving process.”
It’s also boosted her business. Since becoming a Venture, Goshay has signed a major contract with the U.S. Department of Aging and is using the no-interest loan from Coralus to offer her contract workers competitive wages and to maintain operations. She meets with her peer Ventures every two weeks and convenes one-on-one with business coaches who offer suggestions and hold her accountable to her business plan and financials. To regulate her cash flow, she’s working to attract more private pay clients, which is what her Coralus coaches have advised.
“By doing this work, I feel like I’m honoring my family and other families,” said Goshay.
By doing this work, she’s also accelerating “good health and well-being,” the third of the 17 SDGs to end poverty, hunger, AIDS and discrimination against women and girls worldwide.