When Nathalia Artus asks you to volunteer for something, don't even think about telling her you're too busy. The number of excuses she hears is "amazing," she says with dismay. "There's always time to volunteer."
No one demonstrates that more fervently than Artus. In addition to being a new and enthusiastic board member of Family Lifeline, she's in the board immersion program of Big Brothers Big Sisters. She's poured her energy into such wide-ranging causes as Project Yoga's 36-hour yogathon, RVA Earth Day, HandsOn Greater Richmond, Junior Achievement, Virginia Blood Services, FeedMore, Hanover Habitat for Humanity and the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
"You feel so good when you do something for others," she says.
That philosophy extends to her day job, where Artus uses her financial background to help small business owners succeed. A native of Sao Paolo, Brazil, Artus came to Richmond for the international residency part of her graduate business program — and stayed.
Working as the government loan program manager at the community bank EVB, she helps small businesses get federal, state and local loans and works to restore bank access to business owners with past financial challenges — "saying yes instead of saying no." She also runs the POWER program – it stands for Potential of Women Entrepreneurs Realized — which provides financial tools and connections to female business owners.
One beneficiary is Cassie Omohundro, owner of Sassy Bee, a Midlothian gift shop that sells, as she puts it, "all the fun who-y and what-y that you can't live without." When Omohundro's business partner departed and friends drifted away from the business, she was left running it on her own.
EVB listened to her story, she says: "They believed in me, and they believed in the business." In partnership with the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority, EVB provided a loan to sustain the shop. And in late September, Omohundro opened the door to a newly expanded Sassy Bee.