Category Archives: Stories

It’s Small Business Week and microlending through the Small Business Administration has been a major lifeline to many American small businesses navigating COVID over the last year. Through May 2, 2021, the Microlending community has made 156k PPP loans for $2.76 billion (averaging $16k each). Join us as we highlight some of the Friends of SBA Microlenders who have been making a big difference this year to small businesses working to retain jobs, grow, and even thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic. MoFi Since 1987, MoFi has provided financing and consulting to entrepreneurs and small business owners across the Northern Rockies, as well as affordable housing solutions.  Calf Pen Products Calf Pen Products, fulfills a longtime dream of Robyn Warner growing her home-based bakery and canning operation into a viable main street business. Now, through a $10,499 SBA Microloan the business received in January 2020, Calf Pen Products is not only…

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WWBIC, founded in 1987, is a  economic development corporation headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. WWBIC goal is “Putting Dreams to Work” through its financing and technical assistance to small businesses in Wisconsin. In 2018, WWBIC provided 26,755 counseling and training hours, assisting 5,119 clients, and closed over $7,506,900 (131) in small business loans. Their clients started, strengthened, or expanded 1,429 businesses creating or retaining 3,837 jobs! One of the tools WWBIC uses to open the doors of opportunity for minority, veteran, women and low-income entrepreneurs seeking small loans and technical assistance is the SBA’s Microloan Program.  The organization provides access to critical resources, such as responsible financial products and quality business and financial education. Services are open to anyone but our focus is women, minorities, veterans and people of lower wealth – those most likely to face barriers in accessing financing or educational support. Adelaida Alvarez is one such entrepreneur that…

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Entrepreneur Fund is an SBA Microloan intermediary headquartered in Duluth, Minnesota and an active member of the Friends of the SBA Microloan Program. The organization actively partners with entrepreneurs to stimulate the growth of successful businesses in Aitkin, Benton, Carlton, Cass, Cook, Crow Wing, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching, Lake, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, St. Louis, Stearns and Todd Counties in Minnesota and Douglas County in Wisconsin. Since its founding in 1989, the Entrepreneur Fund has fueled more than 14,000 businesses with expert support and funded over $48 million in loans. Duluth Coffee Company is one of those successful businesses that Entrepreneur Fund has helped expand from an idea to a bustling foray into the coffee business, and finally helping the business to become the outstanding and thriving coffee shop and distributor that it is today. Entrepreneur Fund shared information on their work with Duluth Coffee Company’s founder, Eric Faust. Entrepreneur Fund…

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Since 2000, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE) has helped over 900 small businesses start and grow in Georgia, made more than $60 million in loans and helped create/retain nearly 8,000 jobs. ACE, a longtime member of the Friends, is focused on assisting small-business owners of color, women, low-income entrepreneurs and others who lack equitable access to small-business financing across the Georgia market. Recently, ACE was named as Mission Based Lender of the Year for the 3rd year in a row by the SBA Georgia District Office.  ACE is consistently the number one SBA microlender in the state and look forward to continuing to provide loans and business development resources to help Georgia’s small business owners create and grow sustainable businesses which generate jobs. Throughout Georgia in 2018, ACE made 100 loans totaling $11.1 million that created 529 new jobs and helped retain 271. Some of these loans were made…

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National Small Business Week kicked off yesterday with an awards event hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The ceremony featured the Jody C. Raskind Award for the 2019 Microlender of Year. This year’s award went to the Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF), a longtime member of the Friends of the SBA Microloan Program. CEF was one of the first 35 nonprofit intermediaries selected for the SBA Microloan Program in 1992. Since then, CEF has dispersed 1,457 Microloans totaling $18.5 million, which has helped create/retain 3,038 jobs. In fiscal year 2018, CEF dispersed 111 SBA Microloans totaling $1.8 million, and creating/retaining 445 jobs. Jody C. Raskind led the SBA’s Office of Microlending for many years and was well-known for her commitment and dedication to small businesses, particularly in underserved areas. Ms. Raskind died in 2014 and the award was established in her memory. The first award was presented in 2015…

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Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE), is a member of the Friends of the SBA Microloan program and located in Georgia. Since its inception in 1999, ACE has lent more than $37 million to 725 small businesses, saving or created more than 6,200 jobs in the state. ACE uses these federal programs and leverages significant private funds to assist underserved borrowers who are frequently overlooked by the traditional institutions. The SBA Microloan program is an important part of the organization’s financial tools that they use to meet the capital needs of their communities’ underserved entrepreneurs and small businesses. A great example of this work with community businesses is their assistance to River Dog Paddle Co. The River Dog Paddle Co. was started by Mike and Connie Sams. The business is an outpost rental shop that provides paddle boarding lessons and gear for the outdoorsy enthusiast. The name of their shop…

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Small Business Loans (CDC Loans) is a member of the Friends of the SBA Microloan Program and an active SBA Microloan intermediary. A nonprofit organization, located in San Diego, California, CDC Loans offers low interest financing programs to businesses of all shapes and sizes so they can expand, grow, and create jobs. Throughout their 39 year history, the organization has helped create more than 182,000 jobs and invested more than $13.8 billion to over 11,000 small businesses in California, Arizona, and Nevada. The SBA Microloan program is an important part of the organization’s financial tools to meet the capital needs of their communities’ underserved entrepreneurs and small businesses. A great example of this is their work with George Thornton, a small business owner in San Diego, California. George began brewing his own beer as a hobby in 2002 thanks to a recommendation from his sister. It wasn’t until he was…

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Written by Ayrianne Parks and Sam Rapoza The Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation, (WWBIC) is a long time member of the Friends of the SBA Microloan Program, based in Wisconsin. WWBIC helps individuals who face barriers that keep them from getting the funding needed to start or keep their business running. On Sunday, Wendy K. Baumann, WWBIC President and CVO, was honored as the recipient of the 2017 Jody C. Raskind Lender Award, which was presented in Washington, D.C. by SBA Administrator Linda McMahon. The Jody C. Raskind Lender Award is annual SBA Award presented to “a mission-focused lender that has distinguished itself in helping small businesses start, grow and expand.” Stephanie Smokovich is a prime example of how WWBIC has helped small businesswomen fulfill their entrepreneurial goals. Stephanie Smokovich is an entrepreneur based in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, where she owns and operates Bella Blvd.  Bella Blvd is a scrapbooking and memory…

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Written by Sam Rapoza The Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) is a long time member of the Friends of the SBA Microloan Program. MACED is local to Kentucky, and partners with people local to the state who like Ms. Suramek, are keen on building upon the strengths of Kentucky and Central Appalachia through sustainable development. A recent example of this work is their help financing the socially and sustainably conscious restaurant Noodle Nirvana.  Mae Suramek, an aspiring restaurateur, was in need startup capital to open her socially conscious restaurant, Noodle Nirvana. Ms. Suramek had previously worked at Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center, a regional, non-profit organization.  She had been drawn to the field by her desire to do advocacy, education, lobbying, programming, service delivery, but most of her work was focused on fundraising. Her drive to help her community fueled her notion to open her very own restaurant. Ms.…

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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…

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