Small business is the heart of our region. Without small businesses, northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin would be a far less vibrant place to live and work. The Entrepreneur Fund was founded in 1989 to promote and foster entrepreneurship throughout the region. Our mission is to actively partner with local entrepreneurs to stimulate the growth of successful businesses.
Our strategic services and flexible financing up to $500K improves business performance and the capacity of entrepreneurs to achieve growth and start new ventures. We ensure that talent, jobs and wealth stay in the region so the Northland continues to grow and thrive.
Your Small Business Lending Partner
As a flexible lender, we have a variety of tools and ways to help you close deals. We often work in close, confidential collaboration with bank partners to find ways to fund a wide variety of projects like:
- Business Succession
- Business Expansions
- Real Estate Financing
- Debt Restructures
- Pre-Development Financing
Success Story: Subordinate Financing for Business Secession
With a degree in business management and experience running a web development services business, Michael Larson was looking to purchase Kondos Outdoors, a manufacturer and retailer of quality, hand-made gear for canoeing and dog sports. He worked with the Entrepreneur Fund and traditional banks to secure financing.
“Having financial and business advisors made the overall business a success,” said Larson. “This wouldn’t have been possible without them.”
Before purchasing Kondos, Michael began working in the store to learn the business inside and out. And when he assumed ownership, Michael had the capital he needed to move the shop to the heart of Ely’s downtown business district and add a product showroom and retail space.
Success Story: Moving from Start-up Financing to Bank Customer
Eric Faust had a long-range vision for a business: Duluth Coffee Company, beginning as a wholesale roastery and eventually growing to include a retail location. But substantial obstacles stood in his way including lack of capital, lack of foundational business knowledge, two difficult business models and operational challenges ranging from siting to partnerships.
After a direct referral from a bank for start-up financing, the Entrepreneur Fund provided extensive support to actualize his vision, including start-up financing, expansion financing, classes and an expert consultant to advise him on business planning and troubleshooting. This multifaceted, multi-year support enabled Faust to:
- Launch a strategically sound wholesale coffee business
- Build stable revenue, market share and strong relationships
- Leverage his wholesale success to open a retail location
Duluth Coffee Company is now a thriving business with growing distribution. After receiving multiple loans and services from the Entrepreneur Fund through start-up and early expansion, Eric was guided early-on to seek out and build relationships with bankers for services, products, and future needs. He has now seen the rewards of that work and was able to successfully access bank financing for his most recent expansion.
Helping Small Business Owners Grow
For many entrepreneurs, securing financing can be intimidating and overwhelming.
We’re a team of small business owners and knowledgeable lenders, so our business advising and strategic services are built on experience. We’ve walked in our client’s shoes and that understanding allows us to provide guidance and advice that works. Our financing team is made up of passionate people who are familiar with business lending, business ownership, and creative problem solving. We enjoy working with local business owners and our regional banking partners. Our knowledge of economic development financing programs and regional relationships means we often find creative ways to strengthen deals. We know that when we succeed together, our entire region thrives.
Together, We Can Strengthen Our Region’s Economy
When we work together, great things happen for our region. That’s why we value the relationships we’ve built with our experienced banking partners. Much of our work is made possible through collaboration and strong relationships.
Continue reading to review some of the projects we recently funded in tandem with our banking partners.