FORGE Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit based in Huntsville, Arkansas, recently welcomed three strategic staff hires who will expand the organization’s services and impact throughout the state of Arkansas and surrounding areas. The new hires include Sandra Carrasco-Quezada, Director of Latinx Business Development; Morgan Scholz, Northwest Arkansas Regional Director; and Bill Fox, Director of Technical Assistance. The new executive level staff brings unrivaled expertise and diverse backgrounds, shaping how FORGE evaluates its services available to the Arkansas community. The team brings value to the industry by building a more inclusive marketplace for the underserved and those who are traditionally overlooked in the lending process.
FORGE’s mission is to promote community development and economic sustainability by linking investors with borrowers, urban and rural communities, consumers with producers and low-income groups with basic affordable credit. Since 1988, FORGE has provided access to affordable capital and business development services to small businesses and nonprofit organizations that are financially viable but otherwise have difficulty obtaining loan capital from banks and other conventional lenders. Through these new hires, in addition to the existing team, FORGE will be able to serve more entrepreneurs with its services.
FORGE’s new staff includes:
Sandra Carrasco-Quezada, Director of Latinx Business Development
Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, Carrasco-Quezada has lived in the United States for over 14 years. Through her experience as an immigrant, she is committed to helping others succeed and has extensive experience in cross-functional roles ranging from operations, engineering, finance and analytics. As a co-founder of a small business herself, Carrasco-Quezada has firsthand experience with a lack of access to resources and capital support. She looks forward to joining FORGE to help the Arkansas Latinx community remove barriers to accessing capital and hopes to actively engage underserved
communities and remove barriers to entrepreneurship. She aims to create an inclusive ecosystem of support for Latinx businesses, leaders and communities to innovate and thrive.
Morgan Scholz, Northwest Arkansas Regional Director
With over a decade of serving small businesses and nonprofits through development, education, communications and HR support, Scholz most recently served as the Director of Programs and Partnerships at Startup Junkie Foundation in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Her experience and passion align to elevate the rural and historically disadvantaged entrepreneurial community through target outreach and initiatives throughout Northwest Arkansas. Scholz is passionate about elevating and equipping others to find their fullest expression of the merger of values and vocation. She believes that when individuals shift from working to living out their own passion and dreams, effects are manifold – families, communities and economies are impacted. Says Scholz, “The choice to pursue one’s passions shouldn’t be a privilege afforded to a few – it should be an opportunity available to anyone, and FORGE is a key player in equalizing access to both financial and strategic capital.”
Bill Fox, Director of Technical Assistance
With 15 years of business consulting experience, Fox most recently served for 11 years as a business consultant and Center Director for the Small Business and Technology Development Center at the University of Arkansas. He has worked with and consulted for businesses in a wide range of sectors including retail, restaurants, health care and professional services and conducted numerous seminars on a variety of topics including business planning and strategy, starting a business, marketing, cash flow management, financing options and more. Fox looks forward to serving the people of Arkansas by providing technical assistance and business education, resulting in positive economic impacts for the community. Through his role, he hopes to assist FORGE in continuing to grow and help provide entrepreneurs valuable services and access to credit to people who need it.
“Sandra, Morgan and Bill chose FORGE with intention, joining our mission to expand access to capital and technical assistance to more small business owners,” said Philip Adams, executive director of FORGE, of the new hires. “They all bring an injection of personal experience, professional expertise and energy to FORGE. Together with our existing team, building on over 30 years of lending at FORGE, we will work to connect more borrowers with investors, hone the support we provide to borrowers throughout the lending process and innovate to meet the changing capital needs in our communities.”
Carrasco-Quezada, Scholz and Fox will impact the future of FORGE, bringing Arkansan entrepreneurs new partnerships, community events and expanded services. Drawn to FORGE’s non-traditional lending institution, the new hires will continue to focus on character and community rather than credit history and collateral, democratizing access to capital for new and existing businesses. More than just a lender, Forge also provides strategic ongoing support to borrowers to ensure the long-term success of these businesses.