Executives at Miami-area microlender apply to form a bank

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The team behind a Miami-area community development financial institution has applied to form a bank.

Three executives at OUR MicroLending in Hialeah submitted an application with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Wednesday to create OUR Community Bank.

The proposed bank would operate as a unit of OUR Bancshares, the filing said. It would focus on Hispanic and Latino customers, particularly in low- and moderate-income communities.

The goal is to “provide tailored banking services … targeted to self-reliant, mostly immigrant, underserved communities,” the filing said. The bank would offer “versatile terms to assure business sustainability and timely loan payments."

"We think there is a necessity for a new community bank," Emilio Santandreu, OUR MicroLending's president and CEO and one of the proposed bank's organizers, said in an interview. "Community banks in this area are disappearing."

Santandreu said OUR MicroLending offers loans of up to $50,000. The proposed bank would "cover the next step" with loans between $50,000 and $250,000. The filing noted that many of the bank's potential customers borrow to buy equipment or build working capital.

Organizers plan to raise at least $20 million in initial capital, Santandreu said.

Santandreu noted that OUR MicroLending, which has made more than $35 million in small-business loans over the past 11 years, would operate independent of the proposed bank.

All of the proposed bank’s founders have ties to OUR MicroLending. Omar Alireza, a managing member at OUR MicroLending, and Francisco Gonzalez, a private equity specialist, are listed as organizers.

Santandreu would serve as the bank's chairman, while Alireza would be its chief financial officer.

Rafael Saldana, who was president and CEO of Banesco USA from 2008 to 2013, is set to become the proposed bank's CEO. He would also join its board.

Several former bankers are expected to become OUR Community Bank’s directors, including Louis Ferreira, a former Banesco USA chief operating and risk officer, and Lyan Fernandez, who was chief operating and risk officer at TotalBank.

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