When we look back at the Community Loan Fund’s 35-year history, it’s hard to identify a more challenging year than 2020.

COVID-19 and the resulting shutdowns devastated our small business community. Under normal circumstances we are helping businesses get started and grow; in 2020, we found ourselves trying to help businesses survive.

Business owners needed a lifeline. With support from our investors, donors, and stakeholders we were able to provide grants and training to help business owners get back on track. Using public and private monies, we were able to award more than $400,000 in grants to MWBEs. The Loan Fund was also able to leverage $1.6 million in grant monies to design and implement COVID-specific virtual trainings and resources. We did all this alongside our traditional lending and training program, which served another 460 small businesses this year. With the support of our partners and investors, we were able to provide an unparalleled level of service to our small business community.

Here’s a little more information about what we did this year to help businesses and nonprofits cope with new challenges.

  • The Community Loan Fund awarded $426,000 in grants to small businesses for COVID relief.
  • The Community Loan Fund has contracted with Town of Colonie and Albany County to distribute another $750,000 in grants to small businesses this winter.
  • Our organization presented 36 virtual workshops in 2020, including several specialized workshops to deal specifically with COVID recovery.
  • 351 small businesses and nonprofits participated in our online trainings.
  • Our staff provided 98 small businesses and nonprofits with virtual one-on-one technical assistance with federal aid programs applications and operations.
  • We deferred loan repayments for 30 borrowers.

The Community Loan Fund also had a busy lending year. This year, we helped numerous new businesses get started and grow, and we also helped several nonprofits expand their services to meet emerging needs.

  • We loaned $2.2 million to new businesses and nonprofits.
  • Our financing served 11 businesses and organizations, bringing our total to 956 community projects, more than one-third of which are minority and women-owned businesses.
  • Our loan applications from entrepreneurs also increased. Economic downturns usually result in increased interest in entrepreneurship, and 2020 was no different. The Community Loan Fund received more than 200 loan inquiries this year.

We continue to rely on investors, donors, and grant-making agencies to fund our lending and training activities. This year, we had a tremendous amount of support from the community, including numerous granting agencies. Grant funding continues to be ultra-competitive, and we continue to investigate new sources of funding to meet the expanding needs of our community.

  • We submitted 24 grant applications in 2020, a 29% increase over last year’s applications. We won 12 of the applications submitted, receiving $1.6 million, up from $1.19 million in 2019.
  • The last time we successfully won this many grants was in 2016, when we won 12 grants worth an estimated $1.9 million. In 2017, we applied for 11, and won 10, totaling $1 million. In 2018, we applied for 10 and won 9, totaling $1.08 million.
  • Shrinking award amounts and increasing competition for these dollars will likely require us to apply for more and more grants to ensure the same level of funding.
  • We will continue to rely on investments to source the bulk of our lending capital. This year, we added 49 new investments – the most ever in a single year.
  • Our investment portfolio increased 22.9%, from $8.4 million to $10.3 million. These investments are put right back into the community, as loans to small businesses and nonprofits.

We want to close out the year by thanking our borrowers, clients and supporters for their perseverance during this difficult year. Thank you for putting your trust in us. Talking with you and hearing your stories of resilience is what motivated us this year. We look forward to helping each of you accomplish your dreams as we work together toward a more equitable and inclusive future. Happy New Year!