2021 Annual Report: Adapting to change, committing to growth

Entrepreneur Fund

September 28, 2022

Small business owners were forced to be more innovative and adaptive over the last two years. While this evolution was forced due to the pandemic, an outcome has been an uptick in business owners seeking guidance, resources and exuding an attitude that's open and excited for change.

In 2021, small business owners sought support at a higher rate than in the past. There is a powerful desire for business owners to connect – especially among BIPOC community and women-owned firms. Business owners are seeking how to be better bosses, employers, and getting out in front of the current challenges to keep a high-quality workforce. Start-up activity is growing, and many businesses, having come out of the pandemic in a strong financial position, are implementing growth and expansion plans.

Our Impact at a Glance

In 2021, the Entrepreneur Fund:

  • Partnered with 2,022 entrepreneurs across 17 counties in Minnesota and Wisconsin
  • 68% of businesses served were in rural communities and 64% were women-owned businesses
  • Closed 711 small business loans for a total of $27.7 million
  • 23% of our services were to startups
  • Doubled down on our efforts to advance economic justice for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) community members
  • 15% of the 2,022 entrepreneurs we partnered with were BIPOC business owners
  • Kicked off work on our new strategic plan, Shaping a Collective Future: Plans for 2021 through 2023, where we outlined a goal of developing a quality job initiative geared at partnering with small businesses to create and sustain quality jobs across our region
  • Conducted its first Quality Jobs survey among clients with two or more employees. Insights in the annual report below are summarized from the responses, which came from 263 small businesses across our region
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