Meet us Monday: Benjamin Misley
Who funds the people traditional banks decline? The year 2010 was an extremely difficult time to get a bank loan, which is when Benjamin Misley (who was working in banking at the time) felt called to help small businesses and individuals who had been turned down by the industry.
Ben has worked at Mercy Corps Northwest for five years. The first two years he worked as the Individual Development Account Program Manager (Mercy Corps NW’s matched savings grant program) and for past three years as the Senior Loan Officer for the Oregon branch of our Loan Program.
Ben explains that when small businesses get turned down by banks they don’t often learn why, consequently they don’t learn how to improve their chances of getting a loan when they reapply. To correct the problem, Ben takes a very different approach at Mercy Corps Northwest. He responds to inbound inquiries, reviews applications, and manages the underwriting and analysis of loans.
“My job is to get to a ‘yes,’ as long as it makes sense. For those that are not ready yet, I try to turn ‘no’s’ into ‘not-yets.’ We explain what it takes to be successful in a loan application and work with clients to help them get there. We tell them exactly why we couldn’t approve the loan and give them steps to take so that we can get the loan approved,” Ben said.
One of the reasons Ben finds his work so rewarding is because of the inspiring, scrappy-minded entrepreneurs he gets to coach through the loan process.
“There are so many creative ideas and it amazes me to see how people risk so much to do what they’re most passionate about,” he says.
Loans are needed at critical points in the life of a business such as their startup or expansion. Without Mercy Corps Northwest many of these businesses would never launch or grow.
Ben explains that there is an equity gap in traditional banking that our loan program is working to reconcile, “We strive to assist historically underserved groups, who have not received the same rate of funding as others.”
If you have the pleasure of working with Ben there is no doubt you will benefit from his can-do attitude and delightful personality. Ben puts his whole heart into everything he does and truly cares about impacting the lives of others.
“Ben is just incredible” gushes a loan client, “I felt so much support, and from day one knew that he genuinely cared about my business succeeding. Not in a way of ‘we need to keep our grants coming so we need this business to succeed,’ but I genuinely felt like he really cared personally, and wanted my business to happen. I recommend the Loan and IDA program to anyone thinking of starting a business. Of course, the financial support was instrumental, I would not have been able to set up my studio without the grant money I received, but also the guidance was invaluable.”
When not at Mercy Corps Northwest Ben spends time with his wife Melissa and 13-month-old son Noah. Noah has bright blue eyes, red hair, and loves chewing on keys.
Some of his favorite ways to take advantage of the Pacific Northwest are hiking the Columbia River Gorge and cycling the Reach the Beach to the Oregon Coast each year with his father.
Ben is a passionate reader and monthly reads a new book. His favorite authors are C.S. Lewis and Donald Miller. Ben recommends his favorite book: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. If you think loan officers should have a sense of humor, you will appreciate Ben because his favorite show is The Office.
There are so many people who are thankful the financial support and mentoring Ben has given them. We at Mercy Corps NW are also thankful for Ben’s passion and integrity and feel very fortunate to have him on our team. Who funds the people traditional banks reject? Ben does!