Eat Local, Buy Local, Fund Local: Startup Funding for Social Entrepreneurs in Portland
Social entrepreneurs often face greater barriers to funding than traditional nonprofits or for-profits, but a number of local organizations now serve the field with small grants, loans and investments for both startup and established social enterprises. Read on to learn about local funding resources available to help your social enterprise grow.
Individual Development Accounts (IDA) are small, matching grants offered to entrepreneurs below a qualifying income threshold. Individuals enrolled in the program must save a specified amount within a certain time frame, then receive a multiple of that amount as a grant to be used for approved business expenses.
- Mercy Corps NW (3:1 match, up to $6000)
- Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (3:1 match)
- Other Oregon IDA providers
A number of local nonprofits offer small loans to businesses that might not be eligible for traditional bank loans. With the recent expansion of Kiva Zip to Oregon, borrowers receiving an endorsement are eligible to raise interest-free loans of up to $5000 through the Kiva network.
- Albina Opportunities Corporation (up to $150K loan)
- Kiva Zip ($5K on first loan)
- Mercy Corps NW (up to $50K loan)
- Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (up to $50K loan)
- Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs (up to $50K loan)
Funds and Incubators
Some Portland-area funds and incubators offer mentorship, cash, and sometimes office space in exchange for an ownership stake in your startup. Both of the organizations listed below focus on tech-based startups.
- Portland Incubator Experiment ($18K investment + support)
- Portland Seed Fund ($25K investment + support)
Angel investment groups, such as OEN’s Angel Oregon, offer selected companies the opportunity to pitch to investors and compete for a pooled investment. Note that competition is fierce, the application process is lengthy, and none of these organizations focus on social entrepreneurship, so your mileage may vary.
- Angel Oregon ($200K investment)
- Bend Venture Conference ($250K investment)
- Southern Oregon Angel Investment Network ($200K investment)
- Willamette Angel Conference ($200K investment)
Are we missing a local funding source for social entrepreneurs? Leave a comment and let us know!
By Jacen Greene, Ames Fellow for Social Entrepreneurship at Portland State University