Ottumwa Receives Grant for Solidarity Microfinance and Community Co-Investment Program

OTTUMWA – Wells Fargo and the U.S. Small Business Administration recently announced grants to support expansion of Iowa Community Capital (ICC) financial services and technical assistance to low-income entrepreneurs in Iowa.

Wells Fargo announced a $55,000 grant to start a Microfinance program in Ottumwa in partnership with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and other local partners, along with the creation of a community co-investment impact fund for viable projects in Opportunity Zones. The announcement also includes a second $50,000 for the ICC’s Solidarity Microfinance program in Des Moines.

“Since 2014, Solidarity Microfinance in Des Moines has served 300 low-income entrepreneurs–mostly women entrepreneurs,” said Mark Edelman, Iowa Community Capital Board Chair.  “Solidarity participants in Des Moines have achieved a 99+ loan repayment rate while increasing incomes, saving for emergencies, and striving to improve credit scores.   ICC’s goal is to grow Solidarity in Des Moines and support financial services for low-income entrepreneurs unable to access capital,” Edelman said.

“The Small Business Administration (SBA) recently awarded a $150,000 grant to launch a Solidarity Microfinance program in Ottumwa as part of an SBA Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs (PRIME),” according to Alomgir Hossain, Solidarity Microfinance Program Director for ICC.

“Ottumwa is the rural community hub in Iowa that we have chosen to expand the Des Moines program. We have noticed a lot of positive energy and progress over the last years in Ottumwa and we believe that the community fits our description of a great Opportunity Zone.  The SBA grant and part of the Wells Fargo support will support efforts to establish a Solidarity Microfinance project in Ottumwa,” Hossain said.

“The Solidarity program uses Grameen peer group lending methods.  Grameen methods emerged from Bangledesh in the 1970s and have been widely adopted for improving incomes and reducing poverty in low-income countries around the world.  Professor Muhammad Yunus developed the Grameen methods and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work and the global impacts that resulted,” Hossain said.

“ICC collaborates with Iowa Microloan on the SBA PRIME grant microfinance program.  Both organizations receive ongoing technical assistance from the Community Vitality Center at Iowa State University in support of their microfinance programs.  The added support will help ICC and Iowa Microloan to strengthen and expand microfinance services to entrepreneurs unable to access conventional credit,” Edelman said.

“We are very excited that Ottumwa has been selected of all the communities in Iowa. We are ready for this opportunity and are already looking to hire a local director as well as bringing some other local partners into this opportunity,” said Himar Hernández, State Assistant Director for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Community and Economic Development.

Iowa Community Capital is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution certified by the U.S. Treasury CDFI Fund with a mission to serve low-income populations and underserved communities in Iowa.

Iowa Microloan is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit SBA Microloan Intermediary with a statewide mission to provide loans to entrepreneurs who are unable to access loans from conventional sources.