Entrepreneurs Learn About Alternative Sources of Funding

On September 26, WDCEP partnered with the US Small Business Administration (SBA) to host a panel focused on Alternative Sources of Funding for your Business. Funding specialists discussed the many creative ways to help fund a business in the Washington Metro Area. The funding sources discussed included: micro-loans, venture capital, and crowd-sourced funding.

Timothy Flanagan, Executive Director of the Washington Area Community Investment Fund (WACIF), informed attendees about WACIF’s lending program. WACIF is a non-profit community development loan fund whose mission is to empower underserved communities and individuals by providing access to capital and assistance. They deliberately, judiciously, and non-traditionally, lend money to their clients while also providing mentors and free seminars.

Cesar Lopez, Director of Lending at the Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), advised the crowd about the lending program and micro-loans at LEDC. They provide loans between $5,000 and $50,000 and serve the entire Washington Metro Area. In FY2013, LEDC disbursed 120 small business loans and 30 new businesses were created.

Brian Whitesides is Founder of PluribusFund, a DC Metro crowdfunding platform developed to serve local DC businesses and non-profits. He described crowdfunding as the collective effort of many individuals who network and pool their money via the Internet to support projects initiated by other people or organizations. Pluribus can help an organization raise the funds for a specific project. They also help with connecting an organization to new funding sources in key local, professional demographics.

Charlie Kiser is the “Chief Reality Officer” at SellStrategy Consulting. He spoke about which types of businesses are fundable (health IT and education for example) versus those that are not fundable (salons or food trucks). According to Kiser, there are three main types of investors for these ventures: angel investors, incubators/accelerators, and venture capital. Each of these are changing from past standards: traditional venture capital is shrinking, angel investors are taking larger roles, and there is an overload at incubators and accelerators.

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