TVFCU’s Idea Leap Loan Fills Void in Community for Lending to Early-Stage Businesses

By: Tennessee Federal Credit Union (TVFCU)

TVFCU started in 1936, focused on personal saving, checking and loans. Over time, our membership liked our services so much that they began asking if we could offer business accounts. With regulatory changes, we began offering business saving, checking and loans. But something was missing — we didn’t have a loan product for emerging and early-stage businesses. We realized that a bulk of these businesses were struggling to find financing, and as a result, were putting capital purchases on high-interest credit cards. We knew we needed to make a change.

In 2016, we launched the Idea Leap Loan Initiative to provide funding from $2,500 to $50,000. Since we wanted to position these businesses for success, we created a few requirements to ensure sustainability.

Not to scare you, but roughly 20% of small businesses fail within its first five years according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. To ensure loan recipients don’t become part of this statistic, we formatted the Idea Leap program with ongoing business assistance. A pillar of the Idea Leap Loan Initiative is that one of TVFCU’s collaborators – all are area small business technical assistance providers – must refer all loan applicants. Loan recipients must continue an active relationship with the technical assistance provider throughout the loan’s lifecycle.

First, start by working with one of these small business technical assistance providers in the Tennessee Valley:

Second, once a collaborator refers you, we will:

  • Use flexible and non-traditional underwriting criteria to evaluate and approve loans
  • Consider non-traditional collateral to include but not limited to, patents, trademarks and copyrights, intellectual property or other
  • Expedite the loan approval process

Third, once we approve the loan, we will:

  • Be one of your biggest cheerleaders in helping your business to succeed.
  • No really, we will be your biggest advocate and help answer your financial questions.

Are you interested in learning more?

If you want to learn more about TVFCU’s Business & Commercial Services, here’s a quick video with Ryan Henn, TVFCU business & commercial lending manager/commercial lender.

If you have questions, please reach out to Marcus Cade-Johnson, TVFCU business lender, at marcus.johnson@tvfcu.com.

Kudos for deciding to pursue your dream! It takes a lot of grit to get this far. And you’re in a great city with lots of resources — like the Chattanooga Chamber’s Starting Block Chattanooga website.

We wish you the best of luck. Just let us know if we can help — we’ll be here.  

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