Brookings Institute: Energize Colorado’s Model Overcomes Bias in Small Business Relief

As Energize Colorado passes its one-year mark, I am proud that our efforts—our model, our comprehensive statewide strategy, and our successful approach—have gained national recognition. In a recent analysis by Brookings Institute, “Overcoming Bias in Small Business Relief in Colorado,” authors outline the Energize Colorado Gap Fund’s successful approach to serving Colorado’s sizable small-business community—particularly rural, black, hispanic, women, and veteran-owned businesses. 

Our model and our approach to overcoming bias in small-business relief funding included three keys areas:

1.  Comprehensive outreach efforts designed to engage small businesses in underrepresented communities that are typically less connected to technical assistance and capital access. 

2. To help businesses with the funding application process, we offered technical support powered by an extensive volunteer network—including professionals from Colorado’s SBDC network, Mi Casa Resource Center, the Colorado Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Good Business Colorado, and the mentor network from Energize Colorado.

3.  We centralized the application process through our website and partnered with the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA), and a network of community development financial institutions (CDFIs), and other nonprofit lenders across the state to successfully underwrite and deliver funds to businesses who often times do not have relationships with traditional banking institutions.

To date, Energize Colorado has given $26M in funds to over 2,000 businesses across Colorado.  97% of our Cares Act funding went to priority groups. As the Brookings piece highlights, 80% of recipients were women-owned entities, 37% were rural entities, 24% were Latino- or Hispanic-owned enterprises, and 16% were Black-owned enterprises.

It is my hope that Energize Colorado’s approach and our learnings can inspire and inform other efforts to serve diverse small businesses across the U.S. 

Read the full article: “Overcoming Bias in Small Business Relief in Colorado.”