Founder of LiftFund
Ms. Janie Barrera is Founder of LiftFund. Ms. Barrera started LiftFund in 1994 with only three employees. To date, LiftFund has over one-hundred employees and has grown to become one of the largest micro and small business lender in the United States. The nonprofit organization provides loans and management training to enterprises of all kinds— from startups to long-established businesses — and operates in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Since its inception, it has disbursed more than 24,000 loans totaling more than $425 million – with an impressive 96 percent repayment rate.
As Founder, Ms. Barrera interacts with the communities we serve and advocates for hard-working small business owners and entrepreneurs who do not have access to loans from commercial sources. Ms. Barrera has worked hard to level the financial playing field for entrepreneurs, who historically have faced considerable obstacles when seeking the financing they need to start and grow their businesses.
Ms. Barrera has dedicated her professional life to helping others. Ms. Barrera is a change-agent in the field of microfinance and helping small businesses reach their full potential. Ms. Barrera has received nationwide recognition for her accomplishments, including the Small Business Administration Financial Services Advocate of the Year and the Minority Enterprise Development Consortium’s Corporate Advocate of the Year. The San Antonio Business Journal listed Ms. Barrera as one of “Twenty Defining Players: People Who Have Helped Shape the City, and also named her as one of 2013’s “Legacy Leaders.” Ms. Barrera has served on many national, state and local boards, including the Federal Reserve Board’s National Consumer Advisory Council. President Barack Obama appointed Ms. Barrera to the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability and she was named to the board of directors for the Federal Reserve of Dallas’ San Antonio Branch. In 2015, Ms. Barrera was named to the San Antonio Business Hall of Fame. In July 2022, Ms. Barrera was awarded with the AEO Impact Award for Innovation on Main Street and in August 2022 Ms. Barrera received the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Impact Legacy and Merit Award. Most recent, Ms. Barrera has been selected to be part of the inaugural Treasury Advisory Committee on Racial Equity (TACRE), a twenty-five member advisory committee for the US Treasury created to identify, monitor and address financial inclusion, capital access, housing stability, federal government supplier diversity and economic development.
Ms. Barrera began her career as director of telecommunications for the Diocese of Corpus Christi in 1977. There, Ms. Barrera helped found the area’s first nonprofit radio stations, KLUX and KHOY, as well as two television production studios. After completing her MBA at the University of the Incarnate Word, the Corpus Christi native remained in San Antonio where, in 1989, Ms. Barrera became marketing director for the U.S. Air Force Morale, Welfare and Recreation Division headquartered at Randolph Air Force Base.