CO.STARTERS Funds & Loan Program
Three pools of funding have been developed, based on input from program participants, as part of a continuing spectrum of support for CO.STARTERS graduates. Two small funds, established through the Mike & Gillian Goodrich Foundation, are administered by Create Birmingham. Create Birmingham considers these funds as investments in a successful launch, and they do not have to be repaid.
The Advisor Fund defrays early-stage costs related to legal, financial, or branding expertise.
The Marketplace Fund defrays costs related to pop-up events, market booth fees, online or mobile retail, brick & mortar rent, leasehold improvements, and other distribution-related costs.
The Revolving Loan Program is a traditional loan program created in partnership with The Welch Group Foundation and VentureSouth, which will administer and track the loans. Its purpose is to serve as the small-town banker with a heart, a lender who knows the unique skills, abilities and passions that the aspiring or growing entrepreneur brings to the table.
The loan can be an entry point to establishing credit worthiness and history for entrepreneurs whose business model is not of immediate interest to traditional lenders. It can be a source of gap funding that completes the jigsaw for a small launch. Loans from the program cannot be the sole source of capital to start a venture.
As CO.STARTERS graduates successfully repay their smaller loans, they will become eligible for significantly larger loans through VentureSouth, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), which can become a primary lending source, as needed, over the lifetime of the business.