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Credit counseling for emerging & enterprising entrepreneurs

by Jennifer Sharp

Cash may be king, but credit also plays a major role in your finances especially when you are an emerging or enterprising entrepreneur.

“Entrepreneurs still have to live their lives and having a bad credit score can impact your personal life and your business,” said Molly Polatty, program manager for, Greater Memphis Financial Empowerment Center.

The Greater Memphis Financial Empowerment Center (GMFEC) is a grant-funded Shelby County Trustee program and a partnership with the RISE Foundation. It provides all Shelby County residents free one-on-one professional financial counseling.

At GMFEC, certified financial counselors offer personalized guidance with a financial health assessment, determining your long-term and short-term goals, doing a soft credit pull, and creating realistic financial plans.

“We meet our clients where they are financially,” said Polatty.

GMFEC’s counseling helps clients earn their keys to success, which include:

  • Open or transition to a safe and affordable banking account

  • Establish or improve credit scores

  • Reduce debt - decrease non-mortgage debt by at least 10 percent

  • Increase savings by at least 2 percent of annual income and maintain a regular savings habit

  • Locate needed resources

“Wrecking your personal (credit) is not good when you plan to get your business off of the ground,” said Polatty.

GMFEC partners with Epicenter Memphis, the Co-Starters Program, to provide one-on-one counseling for entrepreneurs and cohorts. They are also partnering with the Memphis Medical District Collaborative to offer job training.

“Entrepreneurs have to raise capital as they grow. While angel investors do not look at credit scores, banks do and not every entrepreneur has an angel investor,” said Polatty.

“SBA even offers resources based on your credit scores.”

Polatty offers valuable advice on managing your finances.

“Have a rainy-day fund and save a little at a time, don’t make any non-essential purchases, reassess your spending, and make a budget and stick to it,” said Polatty.

“Seventy- four percent of Americans can’t handle a $500 emergency in cash," added Polatty.

Despite the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, GMFEC is open for business and is accepting online consultations. Call 901.390.4200 to schedule your appointment.

For more information about GMFEC, visit

Jennifer Sharp is a freelance writer for Writing by Design Media. She can be reached at

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