Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute

RMMFI doesn't just invest in businesses; we invest in people, and we do it with more than dollars. While we're proud to be a community-based lender and CDFI, we view entrepreneurship more broadly as a system of people, businesses, and community.

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ReBILT

Class

Community Development 

Beneficiaries

Offenders, Ex-Offenders

Description

ReBILT - Returning Entrepreneurs Business Idea/Launch/Thrive program will successfully support formerly incarcerated individuals with entrepreneurship assistance. RMMFI offers 'whole entrepreneur' services tailored to the unique personal and professional needs of resilient people who are ready for business ownership. RMMFI delivers the perfect mix of educational programs and workshops, entrepreneurial training, mentoring/coaching, capital and community to empower journeys of success exclusively for those who are formerly incarcerated or 'justice-involved'. RMMFI will offer a dedicated entrepreneurship pathway for currently incarcerated and previously incarcerated individuals. Leveraging twelve years of microfinance success, RMMFI will partner with correctional facilities, nonprofits, and justice-involved community leaders to offer a tailored entrepreneurship training and mentorship program to currently incarcerated individuals to explore the basics of business ownership. Post-release, RMMFI will offer its signature 'Idea, Launch, and Thrive' programming combined with mentorship, specialized workshops, microloans, and funding opportunities to support justice-involved 'returning' entrepreneurs. This programming will be offered in partnership with reentry organizations, local agencies, and justice-involved community leaders.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

After incarceration, Anthony Diaz graduated from RMMFI's Launch program and founded Hulk Moving. He's quadrupled his revenue since launching and credits this to RMMFI and having participated in RMMFI's Launch Program. He's currently a vendor with Denver Housing Authority, and has been moving residents between their communities, including some of their most vulnerable residents. This fits squarely with his long-term wish to have a social mission be a part of his business. Anthony made a connection to WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) via a friend. He is currently employing individuals through WIOA to provide them on-the-job training. WIOA pays their labor costs.

Pivot Accelerator Program

Class

Community Development 

Beneficiaries

Adults
Ethnic/Racial Minorities
Poor, Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent

Description

It was clear that businesses needed to adapt to survive. In response to a growing concern amongst the entrepreneur community, RMMFI launched the Pivot Accelerator Program to help businesses adapt to new opportunities. Thirty-two entrepreneurs applied for the 10 spots in the first cohort. The 8 week cohort began the first week of May 2020 with online classes, 1:1 mentorship, and peer support. Each entrepreneur is eligible for a $5,000 grant to help their new idea flourish. As of May 25th, $45,000 pivot grants were approved.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

When RMMFI called our entrepreneurs the week of March 16th, 8 out of 10 said they anticipated negative business impacts from social distancing. One caterer, Michelle Garcia with Heirloom Catering, said she had an idea. She wanted to pivot her business to supply weekly grocery boxes filled from the vendors she works with when catering. RMMFI was able to close a loan virtually with her and get her the capital to pivot.

In just four weeks, Heirloom has purchased $19,000 of food from small, local food businesses, distributed over 240 boxes of healthy (and yummy) groceries across Denver, helped out 20 families in need through donations, brought back all of their staff, paid two months of rent and restarted their compost subscription.

Idea Program

Class

Community Development 

Beneficiaries

Adults
Poor/Economically Disadvantaged
Ethnic/Racial Minorities
Immigrants, Newcomers, Refuges
Offenders, Ex-Offenders

Description

Our Idea Program is the beginning of every entrepreneur's business journey with RMMFI. "Idea" focuses on enhancing the feasibility of both the business idea and the personal capacity of the Entrepreneur. In Idea, qualified entrepreneurs:
Determine their starting point through our free and thorough entrepreneur needs checkup
Build critical focus and learn the tools to test if businesses will work in RMMFI's Idea Lab
A four week Business Idea Lab cohort program was introduce in 2020.
Access RMMFI's network of community partners to get specialized help for individual needs
Qualified Idea entrepreneurs are invited to continue their business journey in RMMFI's Launch Program.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Entrepreneur Story:

"After graduating Business Launch Boot Camp at the end of 2015, Kerry was ready to relaunch her hobby as a full blown business. Kerry uses recycled wine bottles to create candles, each with unique scents. Working out of her studio in Lakewood, Kerry sells her candles whole sale around Denver and individually through her website and in person. She has expanded her business from just making candles to creating light fixtures as well. Behind the product, Kerry hopes to employ women that have their own barriers to employment, giving them a safe work environment to gain skills. Kerry took the full $2500 loan for inventory, and as of March 2017 is now full-time in her business. When asked what "Mentorship" means to her, Kerry said: "I didn't have anyone in the past when I was going through a lot. Now, I want to be the person I needed."

Launch Program

Class

Community Development 

Beneficiaries

Adults
Poor/Economically Disadvantaged
Ethnic/Racial Minorities
Immigrants, Newcomers, Refuges
Offenders, Ex-Offenders

Description

Offered three times each year, RMMFI's Launch Program is a 12-week intensive program aimed at bringing 10 qualified, committed entrepreneurs to business launch. Entrepreneurs spend eight weeks crafting their business plans within RMMFI's "Four Pillars of Business" (Marketing, Operations, Management, and Financials) and the last four weeks readying their businesses for launch. Working with Business, Financial, and Accountability Mentors, entrepreneurs bridge the academic foundations of RMMFI's classroom to incorporate practical strategies to ensure their businesses have the ability to be the wealth generators they were meant to be.

RMMFI's Launch Program is currently offered in three Metro Denver communities and will expand to additional Colorado sites in 2021.

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Evidence of Program's Success

Since it's founding in 2008, RMMFI has graduated 30 classes of the Business Launch Boot Camp with an 80% graduation rate which resulted in the launch or expansion of 250 businesses in Denver.

Entrepreneur Story:

Sheree Sabelle graduated from Business Launch Boot camp #8 in December 2013. Sheree has been a long time masseuse who created and mastered her own massage technique. Through RMMFI, she established her own massage practice to break away from working for other massage and spa chains. Sheree received an initial loan from RMMFI and paid it off in 2014 and, per RMMFI's lending model, was eligible to apply for another loan. Sheree has continued to utilize RMMFI's lending for capital to continue growing her business.



Thrive Program

Class

Community Development 

Beneficiaries

Adults
At-Risk Populations
Ethnic/Racial Minorities
Females
Poor, Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent

Description

The Thrive phase provides ongoing support to RMMFI's launched entrepreneurs as they navigate the challenges of operating a live business.
Business Builder Loans: Initial loans range from $250-$2,500 with an interest rate of 8% and term lengths of 6-12 months. Upon repayment, entrepreneurs can access loans of up to $5,000. Once appropriate growth and stability have been achieved, loans up to $75,000 are available. Each RMMFI loan comes with a commitment from both RMMFI and the entrepreneur to continue to work on the business.
Business Supports: Ongoing focus on the strength of the business is critical. Customized to the entrepreneur, options include: weekly meetings with business coaches, specialized workshops, peer-educational groups, and technical support with business service professionals - services can be delivered in the community or at RMMFI's Co-working space.
Accounting Program: Each graduate of RMMFI's Launch program receives free to discounted accounting services for 18 months to ensure a strong grounding in the financial picture of their business.
Access to Markets: RMMFI's Entrepreneur Retail Incubator, located next to RMMFI HQ, offers discounted leases to qualified entrepreneurs demonstrating a level of business readiness. Additionally, RMMFI partners with other community retailers and large scale pop-up markets where Entrepreneurs can sell their products, build best practices, and generate revenue.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Since it's founding in 2008, RMMFI has distributed 217 loans for over $537,925 to low-income entrepreneurs in Denver with a 95% repayment rate.

Entrepreneur Story:

Kimberly Ford-Ming graduated Boot Camp Class #10 in 2011. Over the years, she has engaged RMMFI as a service provider, offering her amazing talent and skills to support RMMFI in capturing graduation and special events. As she continued to grow as an entrepreneur, Kimberly discovered that her true passion was to explore new revenues streams in her business that allowed her to live her passion - visual storytelling. With that, she came to RMMFI's Post Boot Camp program looking for guidance on how to make her dream a reality.

Kimberly began working alongside LIdi Mocko (business mentor) to prepare her financial statements to pursue a loan from RMMFI. Kimberly's initial request came in significantly higher than RMMFI's lending capability so an introduction was made to ACCION Colorado. After approval, Kimberly continued to work through her business financial challenges alongside Tim Vogelzang (Financial Mentor) to ensure her tax obligations were up to date.

Kimberly is growing her business steadily and continues to look to her mentorship team for guidance on how to build the most successful business possible.

Key aspects of this profile information have been reviewed by Community First Foundation staff. Each organization is exclusively responsible for the content that appears on the profile page. Community First Foundation offers general guidance as to the purpose of each area but does not require or encourage charities to include anything in particular in each section.