Entrepreneur Backed Assets Fund Welcomes Transformational $11.5 Million in Funding and $6 Million in Purchase Commitments

December 2, 2021

Funding will advance an emerging secondary market for community-based microlending for small businesses, filling a vital role in creating opportunity and equity in low-income communities

Contact:
Adrienne Lee
Senior Communications Manager
The Aspen Institute
[email protected]

Chelsea Probus
Relationship Manager
Entrepreneur Backed Assets Fund
[email protected]

Washington, DC, December 2, 2021 – The Aspen Institute and the Microfinance Impact Collaborative today announced $11.5 million in new funding and $6 million in purchase commitments for the Entrepreneur Backed Assets (EBA) Fund, a first of its kind fund established to strengthen the capacity of community-based financial institutions to lend to small businesses in low-income communities and those owned by people of color. Wells Fargo will provide a $3.5 million Open for Business grant, The Colorado Health Foundation will provide a $900,000 subordinated loan and a $100,000 grant, the Annie E. Casey Foundation will provide a $2 million subordinated loan, and Truist Bank has committed a $5 million line of credit.

This innovative fund creates a secondary market for loans originated by community-based microlenders.  In addition to the new funding commitments, multiple banks committed to purchasing microloans originated by community development financial institutions (CDFIs) from EBA Fund through 2022. Western Alliance Bank has committed up to $5 million, HTLF through Citywide Banks and Minnesota Bank and Trust has committed up to $500,000, and Byline Bank has committed up to $500,000. By the end of 2021, EBA Fund will have onboarded 14 CDFI partners and completed sales to 10 banks. Of the loans purchased to date by EBA Fund, 72% are to entrepreneurs of color, 44% to women entrepreneurs, and 78% to entrepreneurs in low-income communities.

EBA Fund was launched in 2020 with initial grant funding from the Citi Foundation. The EBA Fund’s design emerged from ongoing work of the Microfinance Impact Collaborative, which is convened and supported by the Aspen Institute’s Business Ownership Initiative, to identify and implement strategies to scale microlending in the United States. Buyers of EBA Fund loans can create positive change in their communities and meet regulatory requirements. The EBA Fund builds on a strategy developed by Revolve Asset Management, which serves as the fund manager.

Since its launch, the fund has removed hurdles that prevent the widespread sale of community development financial institution microloans and helped banks focus their efforts on adding the most value for their customers and communities while helping to address racial and gender wealth gaps.

“We know that microloans are indispensable in meeting the credit needs of entrepreneurs of color and women entrepreneurs,” said Joyce Klein, Director of the Aspen Institute’s Business Ownership Initiative and Chair of the EBA Fund board of directors. “We welcome these new partners to the EBA Fund and look forward to working together to build capacity of CDFIs to expand their crucial microlending, while meeting demand for loans among small business owners who have faced barriers accessing credit.”

“Investing in microloans to entrepreneurial businesses in key communities is another way Western Alliance Bank works to support economic vitality at every level,” said Barbara Boone, SVP and CRA Director, Western Alliance Bank. “We want to put our muscle behind this important effort that makes capital available to growing minority- and women-owned small businesses to help forward their sizable impact on jobs and wealth creation.”

“At Wells Fargo, we have long understood the value of collaboration to the wellbeing of communities, and the ripple effect that can happen when nonprofits are better capitalized,” said Jenny Flores, head of Small Business Growth Philanthropy for Wells Fargo. “This investment through our Open for Business Fund enables the EBA Fund to fundamentally change U.S. microlending by providing necessary liquidity to CDFIs working every day to accelerate small business recovery and growth. In doing so, we are ensuring our small and diverse-owned businesses across the country have greater access to the affordable capital they need to start, operate, and grow.”

“To bring health into reach for Coloradans, we need to ensure sufficient access to economic opportunities. Small business owners of color and women have historically and continue to face significant challenges in securing vital capital and maintaining strong financial health, especially in the wake of COVID,” states Ben L Bynum, M.D., Portfolio Director, Impact Investing, The Colorado Health Foundation. “This partnership will create critical pathways for entrepreneurs to access the capital and financial resources through partnerships with local CDFIs they require for them and their communities to thrive.”

“We recognize the importance of supporting entrepreneurs of color and businesses in low-opportunity communities, and a proven approach to doing that is helping them obtain capital,” said Tracy Kartye, director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Social Investments team. “The EBA Fund has already been successful at connecting businesses with the resources they need, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation is pleased to be able to contribute.”

“By supporting the EBA Fund, Truist is helping create a secondary market to purchase small business microloans originated by CDFIs. The fund will unlock more opportunity to provide much needed capital to entrepreneurs, strengthen small business growth and brings our purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities to life,” said Ryan Ammann, team lead for Truist Community Capital’s Funds and Alternative Investments. “Small businesses drive the U.S. economy, and providing equitable access to capital to low-and-moderate income communities and minority-owned small businesses can spark innovation, create sustainable growth and drive reinvestment in neighborhoods across the U.S.”

For more information on why CDFIs are key for extending capital to small businesses and entrepreneurs of color, and how a secondary market can help to scale CDFI microlending, watch our videos here and here.

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The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world.

The Aspen Institute Business Ownership Initiative works to build understanding and strengthen the role of business ownership as an economic opportunity strategy. We work closely with micro- and small business practitioners and the institutions that invest in them around the US to build knowledge and strengthen practice by exploring innovation, conducting research, evaluating new ideas, and supporting leaders. The initiative houses EOP’s longstanding work to support the US microenterprise development industry. BOI also serves as a resource to donors and investors interested in microenterprise in the United States. BOI is an initiative of the Economic Opportunities Program.

The Microfinance Impact Collaborative is a program of the Aspen Institute Business Ownership Initiative works to inform, strengthen, and accelerate the efforts of US microenterprise finance organizations committed to significantly increasing the impact of their work. Comprised of six leading microlenders from across the United States, including Allies for Community BusinessAscendusDreamSpringJustine PETERSENLiftFund, and Accion Opportunity Fund, the collaborative provides participating organizations with a venue and mechanism for collective learning and action.

Revolve Asset Management leverages more than five decades of financial sector experience to design, build, and manage innovative financial solutions for CDFIs. Its efforts are motivated by a passion to generate affordable, transparent, and sustainable capital solutions for people of color, women, and low-income entrepreneurs.

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