The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) announced on Friday, September 25, 2020 that the Entrepreneur Fund was awarded over $1 million in grants to capitalize its loan fund for small business lending. The U.S. Treasury granted awards nationwide to 397 CDFIs, totaling $204.1 million. This award will enable the Entrepreneur Fund to leverage 7-10 times the award amount in private loan capital for its 17-county service region.

“This couldn’t have come at a more opportune time,” said Shawn Wellnitz, CEO of the Entrepreneur Fund. “The Entrepreneur Fund is meeting the capital and consulting needs of small business owners across the region to survive, adapt and thrive. Growing our loan capital is critical to our region’s small businesses and moving more small businesses into mainstream bank financing.”

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), like the Entrepreneur Fund, are mission-driven financial institutions that fill gaps by providing access to capital by offering affordable financial products and services that meet the unique needs of economically underserved communities.

A $520,000 Financial Assistance (FA) grant was awarded to the Entrepreneur Fund to grow its capital base and will leverage additional private investment for the purposes of lending and providing services to regional entrepreneurs. The award enables Entrepreneur Fund to continue to grow lending services and meet access to the capital needs across the region.

In addition, the Entrepreneur Fund is one of 13 organizations nationally to receive the Healthy Food Financing award. The $500,000 award will use funds to enhance their capacity to make investments in a range of retail and non-retail healthy food projects serving low income communities, including food production, grocery stores, mobile food retailers, farmers markets, cooperatives, corner stores, bodegas and others across the region.

With this additional CDFI Fund support, the Entrepreneur Fund will continue to drive economic growth and diversity in their 17-county service area with entrepreneur-focused programming and increased funding for regional business owners. Since 2013, the Entrepreneur Fund has grown its lending volume by over 30% annually. In 2013, the Entrepreneur Fund provided 79 loans for $2.7 million. As of October 1st, 2020, the Entrepreneur Fund has provided over 400 loans for more than $16 million and played a critical role to getting small businesses working capital to manage the effects of COVID-19. The Entrepreneur Fund provides small business services to over 1,000 small businesses annually to start, stabilize or grow their business. The Entrepreneur Fund was recently named Minnesota SBA Rural Lender of the Year and is one of the nation’s top producers of SBA Microloans.

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