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Helping to level the playing field for entrepreneurs of color
Every person, no matter where they are from, deserves the chance to get ahead. That means we need to make it easier – not harder – for small businesses to get off the ground, especially for those led by people of color and immigrants.
The Multicultural Catalyst Fund precipitates fundamental changes in traditional lending practices to accelerate your business growth by building on your great ideas. With an understanding of your strengths, successes, and goals, Mountain BizWorks provides access to the tools you need to take the next big leap.
Mountain BizWorks is working to ensure that more entrepreneurs of color have access to the training, tools, and skills they need to successfully run their businesses.
The Multicultural Catalyst Fund is designed to increase equity within the startup and early growth funding landscape for entrepreneurs of color with the hopes of encouraging entrepreneurs of color to enter into industries that have higher rates of growth and success.
Find additional details from typical terms to our integrated business advisory services below. Please note this is a new program and currently in a pilot phase. We are aiming to support around 20 founders of color through this fund phase and will be working closely with the founders, fund advisory council, and others to refine and expand the program. Specific terms and details are subject to change.
How to Apply
Click below to apply for the Catalyst Fund. Please email Jeremiah Robinson, MBW Entrepreneur In Residence, at firstname.lastname@example.org with any issues related to your application.
CLICK HERE TO APPLY
Catalyst Fund loans are designed to help entrepreneurs of color start and grow their business from a place of confidence. Typical loan terms follow:
- Loans are available for up to $50,000 and may be funded in phases based on business milestones.
- Loan terms are up to 10 years with a 4% interest for the first 5 years and 8% thereafter.
- No payments are due for the first 6 months followed by 6 months of interest only payments. Regular principal and interest payments start in month 13.
- Six months of no payments required at 4% (interest accruing), followed by six months of interest only payments at 4% interest.
- No personal collateral is required. Loans are secured only by business assets.
- No credit score or credit history is required.
- There are no prepayment penalties.
- Founders can provide an ITIN number in place of a Social Security Number.
- Founders must agree to participate in tailored business advisory services.
More Than Just a Loan – A Catalyst for Your Business
At Mountain BizWorks, we understand that access-to-capital is just one of the vital resources needed to achieve business success. As such, the Catalyst Fund includes a program of tools to help our founders of color and portfolio companies thrive.
- Integrated Business Advisory Services: each Catalyst Fund portfolio company will have access to tailored technical assistance to help expand skills, fill gaps, or get technical advice (accounting, marketing, etc.)
- Credit Building: having strong credit is an important financial asset, yet we know people of color and immigrants have historically faced barriers to building positive credit, aggressive marketing from predatory pay-day or other unscrupulous lenders, and other challenges. All Founders in the Catalyst Fund will get to work with a credit analyst to review their credit and create a strategy to strengthen it. They’ll also have the ability to request a 0% interest credit repair loan if needed to consolidate, refinance, or otherwise address existing issues.
- Parachute Grants: if the business fails, the Founder will receive a one-time “parachute” grant of $4,000 to aid in transitioning to their next startup, job, or other stable situation (certain conditions apply).
- Must be a for-profit or social enterprise business based in Western North Carolina
- Limited to start-ups and early-stage businesses: must have between one and ten employees (can include founder/owner positions)
- A solid business plan or at least an executive summary with clarity around your business model, next steps, use of funds, and ability to repay any loan
- Be willing to present, if required, to the Catalyst Fund Advisory Council
- Must be open to participating in tailored business advisory services program
- Agree to provide ongoing financials and impact data while a part of the Fund
- Must be a business with strong growth potential (currently, or post-pandemic – funds can be used for COVID resilience and adaptation as well)
- Program is subject to the availability of funds. We’re working to expand the available pool so that we can assist as many in our community as possible.
Multicultural Catalyst Fund Advisory Council
We have been humbled by the interest in the Catalyst Fund and are fortunate to have the opportunity to harness the exceptional and collaborative network of area leaders who are generously giving of their time to guide this vital work. With this Fund, we hope to amplify work deemed by the Council as an imperative to elevating long-term success and creating equitable and inclusive economic growth for Entrepreneurs of Color.
City of Asheville
Eagle Market Streets
AB Tech Small Business Center
West Marion Community Forum
Julieta Fumberg Studios