SCRANTON, Pa. – Nov. 20, 2020 – The Lackawanna College Venture Lab, a program operated by the College to support entrepreneurs in northeastern Pennsylvania, is launching a pilot microloan program. The program can provide up to $2,500 in short-term zero-interest loans for entrepreneurs to launch their startups in the region.
The microloan program will provide access to funds for low-income entrepreneurs who are launching microenterprises, which have fewer than six employees and require a smaller amount of capital to get started. The Venture Lab offers professional services, innovative programs and industry connections within a supportive peer-to-peer learning environment.
Though the microloan program and the Venture Lab does not specifically target women and minority entrepreneurs, 2019 US Census data shows that the Venture Lab’s Target Area contains a higher concentration of minority and Hispanic individuals than the NEPA region as a whole (13% vs. 8% minority and 16% vs. 9% Hispanic). This program will benefit these constituencies. In addition, most of the early Venture Lab client companies have been led by women and minorities.
“Our research shows that NEPA is behind other urban centers in Pennsylvania in microenterprise activity, representing a lost opportunity of over $100 million in annual revenue flowing into our communities,” said Michael Jensen, director of the Venture Lab. “We hope these microloans will help disadvantaged entrepreneurs obtain the vital capital they need to launch new businesses and build more economically resilient neighborhoods.”
The Venture Lab is supporting the program with funds provided by Lackawanna College. This pilot program will test the microloan model, processes and effectiveness in addressing the financial startup needs in the local entrepreneurial community and plans to expand and seek out additional resources.