Colorado Enterprise Fund’s 2016 Annual Report showcases its historic impact

CEF achieved record levels of loans distributed

Colorado Enterprise Fund's (CEF) 2016 Annual Report highlights its significant influence on startups and small businesses throughout Colorado. As a nonprofit lending institution for Colorado small businesses unable to get traditional bank financing, 2016 marked the 40th anniversary of CEF making a positive impact across Denver and the state.

“To exceed the financial goals we set in our strategic plan three years ago was a tremendous team effort,” CEF President and CEO Ceyl Prinster said. “We worked hard to reach more small businesses through increased community partnerships, targeted loan programs and sharing our borrowers’ success stories online. The result was that a record number of entrepreneurs got loans from us in 2016, making their communities, and Colorado’s economy, all the better for it.”

Total lending approved in the past fiscal year was the highest in the nonprofit organization’s 40-year history, distributing $9.3 million to 217 borrowers. The economic impact of the loans was seen in the number of jobs that were either retained or created by borrowers, on average 11 jobs per loan. Nearly $4 million was raised in new capital, and CEF now holds $22.7 million in total assets.

While CEF achieved record levels for loans produced in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, the three-year gains compared to FY2013 are even more significant. The number of new loans increased 46 percent (149 to 217) and loan amount increased 111 percent ($4.4 to $9.3 million).

The average loan amount increased 45 percent, from $29,500 to $42,700. CEF’s total portfolio balance grew 117 percent, from $7.5 million to $16.3 million. Loans to minority-owned businesses increased 111 percent, loans to low-income entrepreneurs increased 72 percent, and loans to women-owned businesses grew by 36 percent and accounted for half of all loans closed.

The 2016 CEF Annual Report highlights further accomplishments for the nonprofit over the last year including borrower success stories, the organization’s statement of financial position for the year, detailed impact data, and community partners. To view the 2016 Annual Report, please click here.

CEF: A Short History

It all began in 1976 when a yogurt company needed a loan to move into an old Denver dairy. Mountain High Yoghurt wanted to expand its manufacturing operations to an old dairy facility at 22nd and Arapahoe in downtown Denver. This historic warehouse community hoped Mountain High Yoghurt’s relocation would be an economic boon for a blighted area in need of new jobs, property improvements, and diversified business activity.

To relocate, Mountain High Yoghurt needed a loan. At the time, a SBA loan program did not exist in Denver or Colorado. Luckily, Denver was chosen as one of only 12 cities nationwide to administer a new pilot program created to spur urban revitalization. The new program was the SBA-502 Program, predecessor to the current SBA-504 Program.

To process a loan for Mountain High Yoghurt under the new SBA-502 Program, a pass-through entity was required. A group of Denver bankers and community leaders stepped up to create the Greater Denver Local Development Corporation (CEF’s original name) which helped originate a bank loan that received an 80 percent guarantee from the SBA. The result was the rebirth of Denver’s historic Lower Downtown district (known today as LoDo.)

In the 40 years since that first loan, CEF has deployed over $56 million in loans to more than 1,900 small businesses to help create or retain over 16,000 jobs in the state. Now offering loans up to $500,000 to small businesses and start-ups unable to secure traditional bank financing, CEF continues its mission to accelerate community prosperity by financing and assisting entrepreneurs statewide to support a strong economy.  

For the immediate future, CEF is planning to: expand its support of culturally and economically diverse communities through targeted lending and technical assistance; continue its campaign of borrower success stories and how they contribute to the prosperity of communities; and finance more small businesses in under-resourced areas of the state where there is great economic need and food deserts are numerous.

About Colorado Enterprise Fund

Founded in1976, Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) provides loans up to $500,000 to finance small businesses and start-ups unable to obtain funding through traditional banks. With a mission to accelerate community prosperity by financing and supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses, , CEF has given more than 1,900 loans totaling over $56 million in startup and growth capital, and created or retained over 16,000 jobs in the state. A nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), CEF is based in Denver with lending services available statewide. For more information, visit:

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