An invitation-only event will convene microenterprise development experts from across the country who invest in minority and low-income entrepreneurs to create “green” jobs and small businesses in Atlanta in April. Hosted by ACE (Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs) and Georgia Green Loans, ACE IT is an initiative of the ACE Green Microenterprise Academy, funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). ACE IT will be held at the Emory Conference Center on April 18 and 19. Wells Fargo Bank is a sponsor of the event.
“We find that it’s often the microentrepreneur – the smallest of small business – who has the commitment to innovation that can lead to solutions, particularly when it comes to climate change and other environmental challenges,” said Grace Fricks, founder and CEO of ACE, which has been recognized as one of the country’s Top 10 largest microlenders by CNNMoney.com. “We look forward to bringing together leading professionals from Microenterprise Development Organizations to share what we have learned and create an action plan to scale up green microlending in the U.S.“
Presenters at ACE IT will include experts in the green microenterprise development field as well as demonstrations from successful small business entrepreneurs working in fields ranging from food and agriculture to emerging technologies like solar. Interactive “work sessions” will share strategies on helping very small businesses incorporate green business practices and how to structure green microloan programs.
ACE IT will be held in Atlanta on April 18 and 19 at Emory Conference Center a LEED-certified conference center on the campus of Emory University.
Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs was founded by Grace Fricks in 1999, in response to the lack of available start-up capital for North Georgia Technical College graduates wanting to start businesses. Since 2004, ACE has been a U.S. Treasury certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), a specialized financial institution that works in market niches that are underserved by traditional financial institutions. ACE has loaned a total of $8.5 million to more than 400 institutions who have created more than 2,500 jobs. The average loan amount is $22,000 and the repayment rate is 90%.
ACE is an SBA Microloan Intermediary, a USDA Intermediary Relender and a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Operation as a CDFI means creating jobs and opportunities for low income and under-served populations while executing sound financial and portfolio management. Certification requirements are stringent and include maintaining certain operating ratios and continued reporting to the US Department of Treasury. Sources of loan funds include SBA, USDA, U.S. Treasury, banks and foundations.
About Georgia Green Loans
In response to the lack of financing for environmentally-friendly small business projects, ACE created Georgia Green Loans in 2008 to serve green businesses and those seeking to develop sustainable business practices. The target market is slightly broader than ACE’s historical customer pool as it targets small businesses without regard to income or size, although businesses fall under the SBA size guidelines. The program operates under ACE’s administration but has its own capital pool, budget, loan application and tracking system. In 2010, ACE added the Save and Sustain program, which provides subsidized energy audits and low interest commercial energy efficiency loans to small businesses throughout Georgia. The State of Georgia’s Environmental Finance Authority funded Save & Sustain’s loan pool.