Denise Mary DiDonato Is a Champion For the Small Business Community

Financial Services - DiDonato - Customer Shot

Denise DiDonato has served the banking community and Rhode Island borrowers well for the past 30 years. Holding positions with Textron Financial Corporation, Citizens Financial Group, Bank Rhode Island, Freedom National Bank, and now Savings Institute Bank & Trust, Denise has been dedicated to helping borrowers realize their professional dreams.

As Vice President and Credit Manager of Small Business Lending at Freedom National Bank, Denise was responsible for creating and implementing a new small business lending platform, which quickly boosted Freedom’s standing from Rhode Island’s 16th largest SBA lender in 2012 to Rhode Island’s 3rd largest SBA lender in 2013. The bank’s Board praised Denise for her professionalism, determination, competence, and financing skills. Further, her technical knowledge of SBA lending, streamlined approach, and willingness to find ways to turn denials into approvals were all instrumental in her success.

Prior to her tenure at Freedom National Bank, Denise spent several years as Vice President of Small Business Lending at Bank Rhode Island. There, she was responsible for managing an underwriting, processing, and closing staff while underwriting credit requests for small businesses with revenues up to $10,000,000, in addition to servicing a $65,000,000 small business SBA and traditional loan portfolio. Responsibilities included insuring compliance with all SBA criteria, federal laws and regulations. Denise’s expertise contributed to Bank Rhode Island’s status as Rhode Island’s top SBA lender for both 2010 and 2011. This took place during a recessionary period without any losses exhibited by the bank, further highlighting Denise’s underwriting acumen.

Denise is quick to see the potential in a loan application that could benefit from a bit of fine tuning. “It’s all about relationships,” she says. If an applicant has a shortfall in collateral and available cash flow, Denise will work to identify other income streams and additional collateral, and separate what the borrower needs from what the borrower wants. “We can often give the applicant enough of the initial request to benefit the business, and help put a plan in place for the applicant to return for the rest of the funds when the firm is in a better position to repay them,” claims Denise.

A strong component of her approach is constant collaboration with SBA resource partners. Denise often refers borrowers to the Center for Women & Enterprise, SCORE, and the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center, relying on their guidance to assist borrowers as they refine their business concepts and prepare fundable business plans.

For her efforts in championing financial services for the small business community, the U.S. Small Business Administration is pleased to present the 2014 Rhode Island Financial Services Champion of the Year Award to Denise Mary DiDonato.


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Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

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