By: Erik Pedersen
Either this month or next, we will surpass $10 million dollars loaned out by our E-Communities since we started the partnership in 2007. (note: as I write this, there have been over 370 loans made to E-Community businesses, totaling almost $9.8M).
So, what have myself, Anne, Simone, Ciara, Amara, Shelley and Ted (who by the way created the graphic visual that is in this blog) learned along the way?
I could spout off and say that we know the average loan is $25,871, the average interest rate is 2.8% and the average term is 6.9 years, but that's not what matters most.
I could tell you that 50% of the loans are in towns with a population under 5,000, and that 28% are retail, 20% are restaurant and 46% are service. Or I could even state that 47% are startups and 35% are expansions, but I don't think that's the most important thing to know either.
I think people might want to know what lessons we've learned. To be honest, we've only learned what our E-Communities have taught us.
They taught us that it's a partnership - it only works when we have a seat at the table with the local leadership team, and that can only happen when the community has created a table to sit at.
They taught us that communication is paramount - I remember having to visit an E-Community because I hadn't explained that the max loan was $45,000 and they had committed to loan their entire amount to one business. (That was a long drive for me.....)
They taught us that there several sources of money higher-up the capital food chain - the $9.8M of E-Community funds I referenced is only 17% all the money that has gone into those 370 loans. There is an additional $47M of loans from local banks, certified development companies, city/county micro loans, USDA, Main Street, etc...
They taught us that if we empowered them with the funds, they would use it - 47 of the 59 have made at least one loan, 15 have loaned at least $500,000 and 1 has loaned over $1.1M.
Most importantly, they taught us that if we created this E-Community partnership, they would take the money seriously but more importantly, they would work hand-in-hand with the NetWork Kansas E-Community coaches in their strategic process of growing an entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Thanks for a great 10 years and for all the lessons you've taught us.