University Economic Development Association

Building a Bridge With Accelerate Montana’s Access to Capital Study

UEDA highlights the Access to Capital Study conducted by Accelerate Montana, an organization affiliated with University of Montana which operates the institution’s economic development programs. Accelerate Montana often collaborates with nonprofits, economic development districts, and regionally based corporations on exploring how to best support entrepreneurs and address their challenges.After discovering that many local, aspiring entrepreneurs lacked access to funding, Accelerate Montana kicked off the project in June 2022 to learn how entrepreneurs could be better supported. Simultaneously, lenders stated that there was a limited number of opportunities to fund in the state. The Access to Capital Study intends to address both sides of the issue by convening funders on opportunities to reach underfunded entrepreneurs and assist underfunded businesses in receiving adequate training and support they need to successfully peruse capital, especially rural and minority business owners.Two surveys were conducted; one to funders to understand lending habits and decision criteria for funding, and another to business owners to gather demographic data. The latter survey received over 400 responses, with emphasis on three demographic comparisons between underfunded groups and their counterpart: woman-owned vs. male-owned businesses, native vs. white-owned business, and rural vs. urban entrepreneurs. Survey data is ultimately used to inform stakeholders of the opportunity to increase the flow of capital towards underfunded entrepreneurs and close the gap between funders and entrepreneurs.Once the final results are published, Accelerate Montana hopes to continue the through the facilitation of discussions with lenders on strategies to reduce risk, research on the recognition of non-traditional lending models in the financial space, and collaboration with national partners on best practices for solving these challenges.To learn more about Accelerate Montana and the Access to Capital Study, click here.To sign up to receive a copy of the full Flow of Capital in Montana Market Study, which is anticipated to be completed by the end of July 2023, click here.