Written by Sam Rapoza
This week is National Small Business Week. Since 1963, presidents have declared a week recognizing contributions of our country’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. Our members, the Friends of the SBA Microloan Program, play an important role in supporting entrepreneurs the Small Business Administration (SBA) Microloan Program. This is the largest federal program exclusively targeted to supporting the credit needs of very small businesses and sole-proprietorships. Through a network of community-based, nonprofit Intermediaries, the SBA Microloan program provides small-dollar loans and technical assistance to small businesses that cannot secure credit from conventional lenders or other SBA guaranteed loans, including many women, low-income, veteran, and minority entrepreneurs. In celebration of this important week, we will be posting stories each day that highlight a business and the assistance a microloan intermediary played in helping make their business dreams a reality.
The Entrepreneur Fund (Efund), is a great example of the work being done by microloan intermediaries. Efund, long time member of the Friends of the SBA Microloan Program, is local to Minnesota, where it strives to partner with entrepreneurs to help stimulate the growth of successful business. Their service area includes Aitkin, Carlton, Cass, Cook, Crow Wing, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, Pine and St. Louis Counties in Minnesota and Douglas County in Wisconsin. A prime example of this is Jason and Lucie Amundsen’s company, Locally Laid Eggs.
Jason Amundsen, who served in the army and had a dream to produce locally harvested eggs. He says that he started the company as midlife crises idea and didn’t really think much about it. It was not his first job and he didn’t grow up farming so it was something completely out of the blue and an uncharted territory “our obstacles were learning to farm (we’re still learning) and capital. I was a grant writer and in the army for a long time. I had a mid-life crisis. I could start a farm or have an affair. Given how stressful the farm business has been on my marriage I think I my wife would have preferred that I had an affair” Locally Laid Eggs received one-on-one consulting pre and post loan from Efund. They also received consulting on cash flow and business financing. Michael Lattery with the Entrepreneur Fund helped Jason and Lucie Amundsen along their way.
With the financial help of the Entrepreneur Fund, Jason and Lucie Amundsen were able to invest in a farm, and augment a flock of hens on short notice. Jason and Lucie Amundsen had gotten “funding to purchase [their] farm. [They’ve] also received a line of credit. They have been used for purchasing the farm, machinery and supplies”. Totally Laid placed second out of 15,000 small business in the Big Game contest sponsored by Intuit.
Locally Laid Eggs now provides locally harvested eggs to Minnesotans and other shopping for eggs in the dairy isle of many supermarkets in their region. The hens are fed non-GMO corn feed and allowed to roam in the pasture if the weather permits it and the eggs are “Micro-Brood in sustainable flock sizes for better hen health and happiness.” Through the success of their business, Jason and Lucie have been able to expand their operations by partnering with other farms in Minnesota. As their mission is to sell locally produced eggs, the farms they have partnered with only sell their eggs local to their region. The unsold eggs are given to local food banks. According to the founders of Locally Laid Eggs, “it’s about getting people real food to local folks, while treating livestock and the planet well in the process.”
The Entrepreneur Fund works with people from Minnesota to help, these entrepreneurs, fund their businesses.