GoWest Announces Credit Union Partners for Exciting, New Small Business Resiliency Loan Program

Last week, in a collaborative effort between the GoWest Foundation, 13 credit unions, and 30 nonprofits, the Small Business Resiliency Loan (SBRL) program officially launched, kicking off a first-of-its-kind partnership to support small businesses in Washington.

In June 2023, the Washington Department of Commerce awarded GoWest Foundation with a $9 million grant to design and implement the Credit Building Pilot Program (CBPP) to address underlying barriers to conventional lending, including complex application processes, limited credit history, limited financial history/documentation, lack of trust in existing systems, language barriers, and more.

This loan product underscores the collaborative nature of credit unions and the effort made by the Credit Union Movement to provide creative solutions to underserved communities. “Small Business Resiliency Loan program provides unique opportunities for Washington credit unions to work directly with intended funding recipients in jointly designing an inclusive capital access program,” said GoWest Chief Impact Officer and Foundation Executive Director Sharee Adkins. “This state partnership positions credit unions as responsive solutions providers, addressing the needs of Washington residents as identified by state policymakers.”


How the Loans Work

Entrepreneurs and small businesses furthest from opportunity in Washington will now be able to access loans between $500 and $25,000 with interest rates set at 4%. This novel program requires loans to be repaid over a term period of at least 12 months, and once the loan has been fully repaid, the beneficiary can access grant funds equal to the amount of the original loan and interest­­–meaning, essentially, the loan becomes a grant for the beneficiary.

In addition, the process for accessing a loan through this program is significantly less complex than a traditional small business loan application as entrepreneurs/small business owners will work with one of the partner credit unions to complete a simplified application.

The funds being used for the SBRL program are federal State and Local Federal Relief Fund dollars, which requires that program beneficiaries be entrepreneurs/small businesses that were negatively impacted by the pandemic. To determine eligibility, beneficiaries need to:

  • Have an address located in a federally determined low-income area or provide a statement attesting that they were negatively impacted by the pandemic.
  • Have fewer than the equivalent of 20 full-time employees.
  • Have a Social Security Number, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or Entity Identification Number to apply.
  • Have or be in the process of obtaining a federal Unique Entity Identifier.
  • Work through one of 30 nonprofit partners from across Washington State and the GoWest Foundation to complete the loan application.


Getting Involved

GoWest encourages all interested Washington State credit unions to engage in this transformative work.

The initial 13 Washington credit unions participating include: Canopy Federal Credit Union, IQ Credit Union, Newrizons Federal Credit Union, North Coast Credit Union, NorthWest Plus Credit Union, O Bee Credit Union, OnPoint Community Credit Union, Peninsula Community Federal Credit Union, Solarity Credit Union, Sound Credit Union, TAPCO Credit Union, Unitus Community Credit Union, and WECU.

“At GoWest, we firmly believe in the transformative power of conversations and collaboration among our Washington State credit unions,” explained Adkins. “These conversations about how to harness our credit unions’ collective power in addressing our communities’ social and economic challenges played a significant role in our selection as the grant recipient. We can drive meaningful change and uplift the lives of those we serve.”

To learn more about the Credit Building Pilot Program, contact the GoWest team at [email protected].

Posted in All Articles, Economic Empowerment.