Throughout our 24-year history, Business Impact NW has taken many forms–but despite changes to names, mergers, and moves our commitment to championing entrepreneurs has remained constant. Back in 2016, under one shared vision of supporting entrepreneurs from historically disadvantaged backgrounds, Seattle Economic Development Fund (dba Community Capital Development) and Northwest Business Community Development Center merged to become Business Impact NW. As a merged organization, Business Impact NW has a 24-year history in Seattle and beyond.
Where We Have Been
In recent years our organization has grown immensely. In 2017, we expanded our lending program into Oregon – providing small business loans to countless entrepreneurs on the other side of the Columbia River. With plans to begin lending in Alaska in 2022 our efforts to finance and support entrepreneurs throughout the Pacific Northwest continues to expand.
As we have continued to grow–we have maintained our commitment to serving the needs of entrepreneurs facing the greatest barriers. At the start of 2020, we launched the Food Business Resource Center (FBRC) which provides free business coaching and classes tailored to the unique needs and challenges facing small scale farms, restaurants, catering companies, packaged food businesses, and grocers – who represent the most critical and fragile small business sectors.
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented immense challenges for us all – and the entrepreneurs we work with were among those hardest hit. To support entrepreneurs during this uncertain time, since the start of the pandemic Business Impact NW has been on the front lines providing over 700 PPP loans and thousands of hours of one-on-one coaching and business support services.
Where We Are
Still, while the end of the pandemic is not yet in sight - 2021 has brought remarkable resilience and accomplishments for our organization, and most importantly the small business owners we work with. In 2021 our clients started 102 new businesses and created 2,177 jobs in their communities.
Throughout the course of 2021, our staff has dedicated themselves to ensuring our programs were accessible and inclusive. Central to this effort was our increased engagement in public policy, in 2021 we hired a Community Development and Policy Manager and have become involved in policy issues impacting small businesses. Back at our home offices, in the past twelve months, our staff have provided 2,636 hours of one-on-one coaching, served 3,448 clients, and 688 loans–including 491 PPP loans–for $25.6 million dollars.
Where We Are Going
As an organization, we have ambitious plans to continue growing in 2022 and the coming years. We are charting new territory and will begin offering microloans to entrepreneurs in the state of Alaska, becoming the first SBA microlender in the state. In addition, with the launch of our new Loan Readiness Center in the spring of 2022, we will provide accessible credit counseling and loan application support so that those most in need of a small business loan are supported to succeed.
Central to our vision is for all entrepreneurs to have an equal opportunity to thrive, and in next year we aim to ensure that citizenship and religion are not barriers to funding your dream. In the spring of 2022, Business Impact NW will be launching an ITIN loan which will provide entrepreneurs without a Social Security Number the ability to take out a small business loan. Through our work with our partners in the Muslim Community Finance Coalition, we are developing and launching a sharia-compliant no interest (riba) loan–providing small business funding opportunities to Muslim communities with limited access to growth capital.
Yet, none of this growth would have been possible without the inspiring commitment of our staff in 2021 and years prior. Thank you to all of our partners, volunteers, donors, funders, Board members – and most importantly our clients for your perseverance and support. This year would not have been possible without all of you–it is our community that defines Business Impact NW.