FAQ

Business Impact NW

Business Impact NW is a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) dedicated to serving under-banked entrepreneurs by providing access to capital and comprehensive business technical assistance. Business Impact NW’s mission is to promote long-term positive economic change for low/moderate income business owners, particularly women, minorities and veterans, through financial services, business advice and training. Business Impact NW serves startups as well as existing businesses, and is dedicated to helping underserved entrepreneurs at every stage in their business growth. Business Impact NW was founded in 1997 as the Community Capital Development and is a certified, rated and regulated financial institution. Business Impact NW is not a US or state government agency.

Business Impact NW’s objective is to provide financial and technical support to entrepreneurs in economically marginalized communities who would not otherwise have access to financial services. Business Impact NW supports community development among low-income and underbanked populations by assisting small businesses owned and operated by people of color, women, veterans and immigrants. Business Impact NW’s lending guidelines are more flexible than traditional banks because of our community impact mission. While careful in our decision-making process, Business Impact NW is able to take considered risks on underserved small businesses in order to achieve this mission.

Business Impact NW’s loan department offers lending services in Washington State and Oregon. Business Impact NW offers business support services (training, counseling and classes) in Washington State, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska through the Washington Women's Business Center (WBC) and Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC). Business Impact NW’s offices are located in Seattle, WA.

Business Impact NW specializes in working with people and businesses that cannot currently obtain financing through conventional sources, such as banks or credit unions. The organization also provides free technical Assistance (business counseling) and offers classes and training to help entrepreneurs succeed.

One of Business Impact NW’s goals is to support currently underfunded entrepreneurs through the process of becoming bankable through long-term guidance in the form of comprehensive business technical assistance and access to capital. Another is to ensure that all business owners have an equal opportunity to succeed. We grow businesses that create jobs in underserved communities.

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) are private mission-driven lenders whose purpose is to support low-income, disadvantaged, and underserved communities and individuals who are underserved by commercial financial institutions.

Business Impact NW is a nonprofit CDFI lender.

Business Impact NW offers financial services and business counseling & classes to small businesses in Washington State and Oregon. In addition, Business Impact NW also offers business counseling & classes in Idaho and Alaska.

Business Impact NW’s target clients are under-banked entrepreneurs, particularly women, people of color, and veterans. The best way to get to know Business Impact NW’s clients, and to understand the impact of our work, are the stories about the places and people we support.

Read about Business Impact NW’s clients here.

Financial Services

  • Lending (Term Loans, Lines of Credit, SBA Microloans, SBA 7a guaranteed loans, USDA rural Microloans and USDA rural loans). Business Impact NW only lends for business purposes and does not offer personal loans, mortgage loans, or affordable housing loans.
    Apply for a loan here.
Technical Assistance (Business Support) Services

Access to Capital is always free. Terms of each loan are specified on an individual basis.

Technical Assistance is free to low-cost: one-on-one counseling to plan, start or grow your business is always free; classes are free to low-cost, depending on the class or series. Course descriptions will always explicitly state the cost of each, if any.

Aspiring or established small business owners in Washington and Oregon are eligible to apply for a Business Impact NW loan. Technical Assistance is available to anyone in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska.

Services are available to anyone regardless of sex, race, color, creed, or national origin.

Business Impact NW supports a wide range of idea-phase, startup and established small businesses. Accounting for two thirds of our loans, many of our borrowers are in the service industry. In addition, Business Impact NW frequently finances retail and manufacturing businesses, as well a variety of other business types.

Yes.

About a quarter of Business Impact NW’s loans are made to start-up businesses. In addition, Business Impact NW has offered thousands of hours of business counseling and training to startup businesses.

A business plan and financial projections are required as part of the application process; free technical assistance can be provided to help you create or revise these documents.

No.

We do NOT have funding available to provide grants for business capital. Grants.gov provides a list of available federal grants.

Lending

Before applying for a loan, you should ask yourself (and be able to positively answer) the following questions:

  • Can you describe, in detail, your business and its value to your clients? Do you have specific goals for the next one, two and three years? Do you have a business plan that describes these?
  • Do you know why you need a loan? How, specifically, are you going to use loan money to help your business grow?
  • Do you keep track of your business and personal finances? Do you have historical financial statements and projected financial statements?
  • What collateral do you have? How much would it be worth if you had to sell it? How does this compare to the size of loan you are requesting?
Business Counselors are happy to help you assess your loan readiness, and help you prepare your application.

To begin the loan process, first visit the Application Checklist to ensure you have all of the necessary components ready to complete the application.

Then, entrepreneurs should to go to Business Impact NW’s homepage (http://businessimpactnw.org/) and to hit the "Apply for a Loan Today!" button, or simply click here. Business Impact NW’s automated application process guides borrowers through entering information about themselves and their business, as well as their finances. In addition, borrowers will need to upload their business plan and financial statements.

Note that you will not be able to save your application before submitting, so you are strongly encouraged to visit the application checklist before beginning the process, or working with a free business counselor in a one-on-one consultation to ensure your application is complete and strong before applying. You can schedule an appointment with a business counselor here.

If you have any additional questions about applying for a loan, please call 206-324-4330.

Although Business Impact NW does not have the same stringent policies as most commercial lenders, we do consider how loan applicants have handled their personal debt obligations as an indication of the way they will handle their business debt obligations. If a client has a strong explanation for past delinquent credit, it should be provided in their application.

Once a complete application has been submitted, a Business Impact NW loan officer will review the materials and pre-qualified applicants will be contacted for additional information. Once the application is complete, the loan officer will begin analyzing and underwriting the application. After the loan is underwritten, it is presented at weekly loan department meeting for approval. If approved, the loan heads to documentation and loan agreement paperwork is drawn up. After a loan is signed and closed, disbursal of funds can begin directly.

Because Business Impact NW does not think like a traditional commercial lending institution, our decision to approve a loan is based on a broad range of considerations including both the financial and the social character of the application. In order to capture the larger picture, Business Impact NW uses the “5 Cs” framework to assess a loan application.

The 5 Cs are:

  • Character (whether the applicant successfully repaid credit in the past),
  • Capacity (the experience, skills and abilities need to succeed in business),
  • Capital (how much money the applicant is putting into the business),
  • Collateral (can include a mix of physical, financial collateral, and guarantees) and
  • Cash flow (sufficient cash to pay rent, utilities, taxes, wages, suppliers, etc., plus debt and interest, as well as the business owner).

The entire approval process typically takes 4 to 6 weeks. The speed of the approval process depends largely on how quickly borrowers submit the complete paperwork for their loan application.

Business Impact NW issues loans and lines of credit between $2,500 and $250,000 for periods between one and seven years. Business Impact NW’s median loan size is $49,000. Loans greater than $100,000 are reviewed by an external loan committee. In cases where a borrower needs more money than our loan limits will allow, Business Impact NW can participate with another lender to provide financing for the amount between what banks and other lenders are willing to lend and what the borrower needs.

As a non-profit lender, Business Impact NW’s sets its interest rates and fees to cover its cost of funds and repayment risk, plus a small margin for operating expenses. Business Impact NW does not compete with commercial loan providers, and generally offers slightly higher interest rates than banks (though significantly better terms than credit cards or online lenders). Fees charged are comparable to other lenders. Our loan officers can provide you with an estimate of fees and interest rate based on your loan request. Borrowers are encouraged to apply with their own financial institution first. If they are not able to provide financing, Business Impact NW may be able to help.

Business Impact NW requires some form of collateral for all of its loans. The type and amount of collateral varies with the nature and size of the loan. Business Impact NW can be flexible about the type of business or personal assets or guarantee, and can consider certain forms of collateral that banks may not accept. Business Impact NW does not require dollar for dollar collateral coverage, but it does expect borrowers to pledge of some assets of tangible value, either business or personal, such as equipment, inventory and accounts receivable, real estate or titled vehicles.

Business Impact NW expects that all loan applicants will have invested their own funds into their business before applying for a loan. There is no requirement regarding where or how this money is invested in the business, but it is generally expected the applicant will have invested a minimum of 10% of the total cost of the project in the business.

At loan closing, all borrowers will be asked to sign documents personally guaranteeing their loan. When a borrower makes a personal guarantee, they become a cosigner on the loan along with their business and may be responsible for the loan even the business has been dissolved.

Businesses eligible to receive Business Impact NW funding can take many different legal forms. The following business types ARE eligible for Business Impact NW loans:

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • General Partnership
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Corporations
  • S-Corporation.

However, Business Impact NW does NOT lend to the following types of entities:
  • Trusts
  • Joint ventures
  • Unions
  • Government agencies or units
  • Non-profit organizations.
  • Religious organizations
  • Fraternal organizations
  • Guardianships and
  • Other forms of special entities

Business Impact NW will NOT offer credit to business entities whose nature is contrary to our mission and to the reasons we provide financial services:

  • Any business engaged in illegal practices
  • Companion, escort and dating services
  • Massage parlors
  • Sexual encounter clubs, organizations and websites
  • Sexual in nature businesses such as bikini barista stands
  • Growth, processing or retailing of cannabis
  • Gun shops
  • Tanning salons
  • Lotteries or raffles
  • Pornographic material
  • Pyramid schemes, multi-level sales, etc.
  • Gambling establishments or casinos
  • Pawnshops.
  • Check cashing, pay day lending

Technical Assistance

Whether you have a business idea you want to turn into a profitable venture, a small business ready to receive funding, or a thriving business you want to see grow, we are here for all stages of business ownership.

Technical Assistance helps you troubleshoot problems, strategically manage your business, or even get your business plan and supporting documents in order to successfully receive loan capital.

Our business support services include (among other things):

  • Managing the growth of your business
  • How to manage your cash flow
  • How to price for profit
  • Responding to the market - looking for opportunities
  • How to reach your market
  • Tracking and understanding your business finances

One-on-one Counseling:

  • Over the Phone
  • Virtually through skype, facetime, or screensharing software
  • In-Person at Business Impact NW
Sign up by first attending a Square One Webinar or Registering Here.


Classes & Trainings:
  • In-Person at various locations
  • Live Webinars
Register for Classess & Trainings here.

During the one-on-one appointment with a business counselor, you will be provided business counseling on an individual basis, either in-person, over the phone, and/ or video conferencing. Initial appointments are usually 1/2 to 1 hour by phone. The more you dive into your business plan, time can be lengthened to support your business counseling needs.

This business counseling is offered free of charge, and will start the process of reviewing or creating your business plan in-depth and any other topics you want to cover. Counseling will also cover in detail all aspects of preparing a loan application, if applicable, and if pursuing loan capital is in your business’s best interest.

We are here for you, so bring what you need to make the most out of your session. Some recommendations include:

  • A note-taking device (pen and paper, computer, tablet, etc)
  • Everything you've got about your business, whether it's a sketch on a napkin or a complete business plan
  • If applying for a loan, bring the Application Checklist and everything it requires
  • If asking for specific advice about your marketing, website, profit and loss statements, or other created piece of data, have those available as well.

Technical Assistance is free to low-cost.

One-one-counseling is free; most classes, seminars, business lunches, and webinars are free; 7-week series courses require a monetary commitment. These vary in cost, and are SEAP approved!

Support & Impact

Since opening its doors in 1997, Business Impact NW has made $71.5 million in loans to more than 1,500 entrepreneurs. Borrowers include more than 420 entrepreneurs of color and more than 520 businesswomen. In addition, 90 veterans received funding from Business Impact NW. Through its lending program, Business Impact NW has helped to save more than 3,600 jobs and to create more than 2,400 jobs.

Business Impact NW receives support from a wide range of investors and donors including banks, individuals like you, foundations, and government agencies who share our commitment to supporting the growth of small businesses.

More information can be found about each of our supporters here:

Business Impact NW earns revenue from the interest and fees on loans. Since our purpose is impact, not profit, this revenue covers only a portion of our operating costs. Our remaining expenses are covered by contributions from government grants, private foundations, corporate partners, and other philanthropic donors and investors like you.

Business Impact NW relies on the support organizations and people who share our vision of promoting financial inclusion for underserved clients to help them grow their businesses. Among the ways to support Business Impact NW’s work are donating, donating in-kind services or goods, sponsoring our events, programs and scholarships, investing in an impact loan, interning or volunteering, and becoming a promotional or community partner.

Find out more here.

Business Impact NW is a nonprofit organization under the section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and contributions to Business Impact NW are tax deductible to the extent allowable by federal regulations.

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