Financing Change & Changing Finance

Carine Goldin knows a lot about French cuisine, having formerly owned a small French restaurant and bakery, and having extensively studied the art of fine cheese making. But when Carine decided to build a goat cheese production facility in Molalla, Oregon, she needed additional financing to cover the costs of starting a new farm-based enterprise. With the help of a Mercy Corps Northwest small business loan, Carine was able to purchase the necessary equipment, supplies and goats to open the doors of her new business. And now her delicious Goldin Artisan Goat Cheeses are available at restaurants, farmers’ markets and stores throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Mercy Corps Northwest Business Development Services—Now Statewide in Oregon and Washington

Since 1998, MCNW has been providing business advisory and development services for small businesses, including small farmers and food producers. Through several programs, MCNW helps small business owners build solid business skills, develop assets through a matched-savings program, and obtain the capital they need to start or grow their enterprise. The matched savings program, or “Individual Development Accounts” are funded by Oregon’s new tax credits. The program provides a three to one match of a business owner’s savings, dedicated to purchasing assets for the business. MCNW also provides small business loans to people who do not have access to other avenues of credit. The goal is to provide financing for those critical assets, like a greenhouse, tractor, or processing equipment, which can boost the potential and productivity of a small business. To date MCNW has made over 120 loans to small businesses, totaling more than $1.25 million. MCNW services are available in several languages including Spanish and Russian. MCNW is now working with partners, like the Oregon State Extension Service to extend our loan programs and small business support services statewide.

The First Rung on the Capital-Access Ladder

Our loan fund can serve as the first rung on the capital-access ladder for many new and expanding businesses that commercial banks, the SBA or USDA cannot help. MCNW staff work in collaboration with expert partners including Oregon State Extension agents, to provide clients with the specific one-on-one business mentoring that they need to move their business towards long-term financial stability and success. After a successful loan and some technical assistance, the business owner will have established their track record and credit history, and will then be ready to go back to that bank for traditional financial services.

For more information on MCNW’s small business loan program and our other educational and financial services for low-income clients, contact your local OSU Small Farms Agent or Mercy Corps Northwest loan officers, Brian Fassett, 503-236-1580 extension 203 or Anthony Gromko, 503-236-1580 extension 207. You can also visit the Mercy Corps website for more information.

Mercy Corps Northwest (MCNW) is the regional economic development office of Mercy Corps, the Portland-based international relief and development agency established in 1979. MCNW’s regional micro-enterprise programs have promoted self-sufficiency and healthy communities, contributing to the strength of the northwest economy through small business development and self-employment since 1998. MCNW became a CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) in 2002.

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