How is Community First Fund different from banks and other funding sources?

Community First Fund is a private, independent, non-profit community development financial institution. Community First Fund looks at the overall social and community impact of the business for which a loan is sought. Community First Fund considers non-traditional collateral, offers a flexible loan structure. The rates and fees are generally competitive with bank rates for similar loans. Community First Fund also provides business counseling and training and technical assistance to help potential borrowers improve their capacity to succeed in business

Does Community First Fund provide grants?

No, Community First Fund provides loans to qualified applicants. Information on grants and other sources of funding click here.

How much can I borrow and for how long?

Community First Fund will make loans for as little as $1,000 and as much as $500,000 depending on the stage of the business (start-up versus existing). Repayment terms are flexible based on cash flow and use of funds.

Is my credit history important?

Credit history is one of the most important factors in making our decision to provide a loan. Credit history is the clearest indication we have of your willingness and ability to repay loans.

Do I need collateral?

Yes, we will ask you to pledge your business assets to secure a loan. Offering assets such as your automobile, home, or other real estate makes us feel that you are as confident in your business as you would like us to be. Although not always required, we like to have spouses guarantee the debt to show there is family support of the business.

Do I need a business plan?

A business plan is necessary for start-ups and can be very useful for existing businesses, especially when major changes are planned. A business plan outline is included in our application packet and lists questions that Community First Fund would like to have answered. A business plan does not have to be a lengthy paper, but should outline your goals and business direction.

How long does the approval process take?

Once we have a fully completed application packet, Community First Fund aims to have an answer to you within two weeks. Each loan officer uses the information you provide to write an in-house document summarizing your loan request amount, respective financial and business strengths and weaknesses. Every week members of the Community First Fund lending staff review these documents for approval, modification, or denial of a loan.

If I am approved for a loan, when can I expect to receive the loan?

Currently Community First Fund disburses loans two to four weeks after approval. A borrower can usually expect a time frame of 30 to 60 days from the time of application to loan disbursement.

Is there a fee to apply for a loan?

Yes. Community First Fund charges a $50 fee for all loan applications under $50,000 and a $100 fee for loans over $50,000.