The Entrepreneur Fund actively partners with entrepreneurs to stimulate the growth of successful businesses. Our service area includes 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.
To have vibrant communities across our region that are created and sustained by entrepreneurs.
Our strategic services and flexible financing improves business performance and the capacity of entrepreneurs to achieve growth and start new ventures. We ensure that talent, jobs and wealth stay in the region—and often make a global impact.
Founded in 1989 by Mary Mathews in response to an economic downturn that devastated employment levels in the natural resource industries of northeastern Minnesota, the Entrepreneur Fund was created to promote and foster entrepreneurship throughout the region and in the communities we serve. At inception, classroom training, consulting and loans up to $25,000 were provided for individuals seeking to start a new business.
The Entrepreneur Fund launched an initiative in 2008 to foster a stronger culture of entrepreneurship and develop talent by aligning with business, education and economic development partners related to entrepreneurship. The organization added services specifically targeted to entrepreneurs seeking to grow their business by improving skills, growing networks and implementing specific growth plans. An ambitious target was set to engage 500 entrepreneurs in achieving growth goals by 2017.
In 2013, amidst a new fiscal landscape, the Entrepreneur Fund fully transformed to meet the burgeoning financing needs of entrepreneurs in the region. New loan products and lending partners were added, lending limits were increased to $250,000 and operational capacity was increased to further ensure that small businesses had the capital they needed to grow.
Entrepreneur Fund Accreditations:
- Since 1992: SBA Micro-lender
- Since 1995: Member of Opportunity Finance Network
- Since 1998: Certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), a designation of the U.S Treasury Department.
- 2004: Designated an SBA Women’s Business Center (one of two in Minnesota).
- Since 2010: Designated a non-bank SBA 7a lender
- Since 2010: Aeris rated. Aeris is a 3rd party rating on mission impact and financial health that is available to outside investors