What kind of loans do you make and to whom?
We invest $5 million to 20 million in well-established, privately owned, lower-middle-market companies. Additionally, as a majority women-owned fund, Avante has a special interest – although not exclusive focus – in providing capital to women- and minority-owned companies.
What can you do that a bank can’t?
We can provide a 100 percent cash flow-based loan. Most banks require some asset coverage. In addition, we provide subordinated debt and equity capital, which most banks don’t do.
What can banks do that you wish you could?
Banks are better equipped to provide revolving lines of credit and low-priced senior term loans. We often work with banks: They provide the
senior and revolving debt and we provide the subordinated debt and equity in a transaction.
What has been the biggest change in the lending industry since the financial crisis?
The influx or re-emergence of alternative lenders including business development companies, small-business investment companies and credit opportunity funds.
Has that helped or hurt you and other nonbank lenders?
It has generally resulted in more competition for us but we do partner with some of these alternative lenders in specific deals.
What was your worst day at the office?
When I got a call that my daughter was in the emergency room with a blood clot and I had to rush to the hospital. She is fine now.
Your best day?
When we received our first big institutional commitment for our fund, which essentially launched and validated our fundraising back in 2009 and 2010 – a time when very few if any new funds were getting off the ground.
What’s the best advice you ever got?
Hire people smarter than you.
JERI J. HARMAN, 56
Founder and Partner,
Avante Mezzanine Partners, Westwood
FAMILY: Married; daughters ages 14 and 21.
ACTIVITIES: Spend time with my family, reading and exercising.
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