Katie Taylor, OBDC’s Manager – Marketing & Special Projects interviews Flor de Maria Melara, Assistant Vice President – Relationship Manager. Flor reflects OBDC’s commitment to empowerment, supporting business owners in creating and growing their own thriving businesses. Flor holds a BA in Business Economics, BA in French and Francophone Studies, and an MBA from Mills College. Flor came to OBDC after managing the Financial Services Department at the Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment for five years. She is a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Business Leadership Award recipient, and was elected by the California State Department’s Partner’s Program to participate in a Business Fellowship Program for a month in Mexico DF. Click here for Flor’s bio.
How did you get started in working in economic development?
How could I not? As a Latino immigrant daughter of a single mother, having the opportunity to be the first person in my family to go to college and graduate with two undergrad and one graduate degree left me no choice but to dedicate my career to public service. In my junior year of college in Economic Development class, I learned that the only way to successfully create economic development is to help people do it themselves. That stuck with me, and I think about it constantly.
In what ways do you think OBDC is improving the communities we serve?
At OBDC, we are helping people do it themselves! We are empowering them to be independent, to take charge of their destiny, and in the process, to improve the lives of everyone around them. We’re providing the funding, tools, and support to run successful businesses, but ultimately it is the courageous small business owner who is creating jobs and transforming cities like Oakland and San Francisco through economic activity.
What do you enjoy about working with small business owners?
What I enjoy the most about working with small business owners is the selflessness with which they enter their business venture. The small business owner makes incredible sacrifices to improve the livelihood of his or her family and the community in which they live and work.
What continues to motivate you?
The ripple effect of it all. Knowing that someone believed in me and now I am believing in others who believe in their community.
What do you love about working at OBDC?
The fact that I get to learn from a team with diverse backgrounds and expertise, but still feel that I have so much of my own unique strengths and knowledge to share with others. I’m am proud to be a part of an organization that has a reputation for doing small business lending right while treating their staff with the same respect and appreciation we treat our clients.
Anything else you would like our readers to know?
Being a part of a small business is FUN! Everyone enjoys it, from the customers to the owners to the small business lender that helped make it happen, so let’s support our small businesses more!
You can find more of OBDC’s businesses to support by clicking here for our interactive map of our borrowers.