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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 Seattle Economic Development Fund dba 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.

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.

Or visit their businesses through our Directory.

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 and closing costs 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 Coaches are happy to help you assess your loan readiness, and help you prepare your application.

Visit our Loan Readiness page for assistance.

Note that you will not be able to save your application before submitting, so you are strongly encouraged to visit the Loan Readiness and About Our Loans pages 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 coach 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 6-10 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 $5,000 and $350,000 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

 

Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC)

No. While we can help you prepare to get certified to conduct business with the VA, we are not in any way affiliated with the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Veterans Business Outreach Center does not charge for training or coaching. These services are publicly funded through a cooperative agreement with the US Small Business Administration.

If you are:

  • U.S. Military Veteran
  • Active US Military Member
  • Guard & Reserve Member
  • Military Spouse
  • Survivor
  • A resident of (or primary business location is in) Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, or Northern Nevada*

*If you are not a resident of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, or Northern Nevada, visit this resource page to find the center that covers your area.

A VOSB is a Veteran Owned Small Business.

You can self-certify as VOSB for many programs but will need to be verified as such to do business with the VA or FAA.  Or visit their businesses through our Directory.

An SDVOSB is a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business.

You can self-certify as SDVOSB for many programs but will need to be verified as such to do business with the VA or FAA.

All you need to do is register for our services. From there, you will get an email with your next steps.

Grants are very rare.

When you perform an internet search you might encounter some legitimate opportunities, but more often, you will encounter loans disguised as grants.

We encourage you to check with your business coach and do your research when and if you do encounter grant opportunities.

There are different avenues for certification, and each provides different benefits. Your business coach can discuss your business model with you and give you information about the certifications that may benefit you.

Yes – we are happy to coach you and your partners. We even encourage all partners to participate in coaching sessions.

The very first step is to become “loan ready.”

To become loan ready, you can work with your business coach and take trainings we offer on this subject. You’ll learn more about how to get a loan when you chat with your business coach.

Pitching is an art and takes time to develop and practice. A generally accepted pitching principle is following the 10-20-30 rule, which you can see described in detail in this video presented by Guy Kawasaki.

Your business coach can work with you to develop your pitch, and participating in Business Impact NW’s annual pitch competition. This annual contest provides you an opportunity to work on your business and develop your pitch while working with a business coach. You might even win a piece of the prize pie!

 

Yes – we also serve active-duty, National Guard, Reserve Component, Coast Guard and Military Spouses. We can also serve other non-veteran business owners on a space available basis. If you do not fall into one of the categories listed, you can either register with VBOC, or you can register for services from the Washington Womens Business Center or the Food Business Resource Center at Business Impact NW.

You need to know every detail of your business. In order to gain this knowledge, you will need to conduct your own research and do your own writing.  Our coaches provide tools, resources, and advice to help you get started and complete a business plan - which is key to ensuring you have a feasible, profitable business idea.

Definitions

“Using appropriate pronouns is a first step toward respecting people's gender identity and creating a more welcoming space for people of all genders. Whatever approach we take to address pronouns, the bottom line is that everyone deserves to have their self-ascribed name and pronouns respected in the workplace.”

This quote is from the website of the National Institutes of Health. Click here to learn more https://www.edi.nih.gov/blog/communities/what-are-gender-pronouns-why-do-they-matter .

Another resource referenced in this article is the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Click here to learn more about pronouns, the foundation and the work they do: https://www.thehrcfoundation.org/professional-resources/talking-about-pronouns-in-the-workplace

Business Impact NW defines this as people or groups who have unequal or disproportionate representation in or exclusion from the bodies that created and govern our legal, social, and financial systems.

Business Impact NW defines this as people or groups who historically had or currently have unequal access to resources and levels of support.

Business Impact NW defines underbanked as a characteristic describing people or communities who do not have sufficient access to mainstream financial services and products typically offered by retail banks. The result is often being deprived of banking services such as credit cards or loans. This lack of access is most often attributed to historical barriers (structural and institutionalized racism, lack of capital, lack of collateral), contemporary barriers (language, immigrant status), and/or social barriers (distrust).

BIPOC means Black, Indigenous, People of Color.

Why is this used? Find out more from Healthline  HERE

A non-gendered reference for people from Latin American heritage.

Why is this used? Find out more from Very Well Mind HERE

 

"LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or sometimes questioning), and others. The "plus" represents other sexual identities including pansexual, asexual, and Two-Spirit.

  • L (Lesbian): A lesbian is a woman/woman-aligned person who is attracted to only people of the same/similar gender.
  • G (Gay): Gay is usually a term used to refer to men/men-aligned individuals who are only attracted to people of the same/similar gender. However, lesbians can also be referred to as gay. The use of the term gay became more popular during the 1970s. Today, bisexual and pansexual people sometimes use gay to casually refer to themselves when they talk about their similar gender attraction.
  • B (Bisexual): Bisexual indicates an attraction to all genders. The recognition of bisexual individuals is important, since there have been periods when people who identify as bi have been misunderstood as being gay. Bisexuality has included transgender, binary and nonbinary individuals since the release of the "Bisexual Manifesto" in 1990.
  • T (Transgender): Transgender is a term that indicates that a person's gender identity is different from the gender associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.
  • Q (Queer or Questioning): Though queer may be used by people as a specific identity, it is often considered an umbrella term for anyone who is non-cisgender or heterosexual. But it is also a slur. It should not be placed on all members of the community, and should only be used by cisgender and heterosexual individuals when referring to a person who explicitly identifies with it. Questioning refers to people who may be unsure of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • + (Plus): The 'plus' is used to signify all of the gender identities and sexual orientations that are not specifically covered by the other five initials. An example is Two-Spirit, a pan-Indigenous American identity."

Why is this used? Find out more from Very Well Mind HERE

 

"LMI" is not decided by any loan provider, such as Business Impact NW.  Instead, it is a dollar amount dictated by the US Department of Housing & Urban Development (often referred to as "HUD") based on a person's address. It is a measurement that is used to determine opportunities within communities for increased resources.

A low- to moderate-income (LMI) person is someone whose total annual income is at least 20% less than the average middle income for the community where they live.  This information is continually updated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.  You can see the average middle income for an area, and lists of Low-Income per household size, by selecting a State and County here.

  • Extremely Low Income is 0-20% of the average middle income for an area
  • Very Low Income is 20-50% of the average middle income for an area
  • Low- to Moderate-Income is 50-80% of the average middle income for an area
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