Recently, the Entrepreneur Fund has announced that it received a $2 million Grow with Google Small Business Fund loan and a $125,000 Google.org-funded grant from Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), a leading network for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). The grant will help the Entrepreneur Fund better serve minority and women-owned businesses in northeast and central Minnesota, as well as northwest Wisconsin.
CDFIs are lenders with a mission to support small businesses underserved by mainstream finance and are a proven model for moving capital into communities that are the hardest to serve.
The Entrepreneur Fund (EF) is a leading community and economic development organization that partners with small business owners to achieve business growth. The organization’s vision is to grow a diverse regional economy and thriving communities that are created and sustained by entrepreneurs. EF provides a combination of services, support and financing for rural, women-owned and regional entrepreneurs to achieve growth. EF’s service area includes 17 counties encompassing northeast Minnesota, central Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin.
Since 2013, EF has grown by over a 30% annualized growth rate. In 2020, EF provided services to over 1,600 small businesses and originated more than 500 loans for over $20 million. EF clients grow revenue and jobs at a rate that exceeds their regional peers. Furthermore, EF clients that start new businesses have an 89% success rate after three years. To put this into perspective, this surpasses the 50% success rate nationally for that same time period.
EF’s services and lending are tailored to assist small businesses, helping them to achieve their goals while growing their capacity as a small business owner.
In March 2020, Google.org made a $5 million grant to OFN, enabling their member CDFIs increased access to capital. This funding would be used by lenders, like the Entrepreneur Fund, to grant capital to marginalized communities. The unrestricted grants can be used to support operations, loan capital, loan loss reserve, capacity building or for any other purpose.
At the same time, OFN and Google announced the Grow with Google Small Business Fund. This fund delivers financing to CDFIs that are supporting the short-term recovery and long-term financing needs of America’s small businesses impact by COVID-19.
In June 2020, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, announced an additional $45 million in loans for the Grow with Google Small Business Fund to assist Black-owned small businesses and $5 million more in Google.org grants. In total, Google has now committed $170 million in loans and $10 million in Google.org grants. The Entrepreneur Fund is one of a growing list of CDFIs to received Google.org grants or Grow with Google Small Business Fund loans.
“These funds couldn’t be better targeted or more timely. The Entrepreneur Fund will utilize them to expand our capital base and deploy them to diverse-owned and women-owned businesses across our region,” said Shawn Wellnitz, CEO and President of the Entrepreneur Fund. “This work is already underway to meet the major demand for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to support our hard-working small business owners and these funds will allow us to get it to those who need it most.”
There are more than 1,100 CDFIs working in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. OFN’s more than 300 members serve 58% people of color, 85% low-income, 26% rural and 48% women (OFN Annual Member Survey, 2018). Nationwide, the CDFI industry manages more than $222 billion.
OFN, a leading national network of CDFIs, strives to ensure low-income and other under-resourced communities have access to affordable, responsible financial products and services. Members of OFN are CDFIs that deliver responsible lending to help low-income communities join the economic mainstream.
Through 2018, OFN’s network originated $74.2 billion in financing in rural, urban and Native communities. This financing has helped to create or maintain more than 1,560,000 jobs, start or expand more than 419,177 businesses and microenterprises, and support the development or rehabilitation of 2.1 million housing units and more than 11,500 community facility projects. For more information, visit www.ofn.org.
Google.org, Google’s philanthropy, supports nonprofits that address humanitarian issues and apply scalable, data-driven innovation to solving the world’s biggest challenges. We accelerate their progress by connecting them with a unique blend of support that includes funding, products, and technical expertise from Google volunteers. We engage with these believers-turned-doers who make a significant impact on the communities they represent, and whose work has the potential to produce meaningful change. We want a world that works for everyone—and we believe technology and innovation can move the needle.