In partnership with ZOMA Foundation and the CLIMBER Fund, First Southwest Community Fund is announcing the Innovate Onwards Fund, a $4 million program that offers affordable loans to rural businesses, nonprofits and entrepreneurs affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The Innovate Onwards Fund launched on June 10, 2021 with the goal of helping businesses rebuild, start-up and grow.

“While emergency funds provided a lifeline to many rural businesses across Colorado, additional working capital is key to long-term economic recovery and resilience. We’re pleased to be a part of the public-private partnership with FSWCF and CLIMBER to increase access to capital in rural areas and support local economic development and job growth,” said Ben Walton, co-founder of ZOMA Foundation.

The Innovate Onward fund will expand access to capital for rural small businesses with low-interest loans up to $500,000. The fund has two levels. Level one provides loans up to $100,000 for startups or small businesses at a 3.5% interest rate with a 7-year term. Level two provides loans between $100,000-$500,000 to existing businesses who can show previous profitability at a 3.9% interest rate with a 5-year term. The loan fund will serve all of rural Colorado with a focus on the Southwestern and Southern counties.

“The CLIMBER (Colorado Loans to Increase Mainstreet Business Economic Recovery) Loan Fund is a statewide program that will provide up to $250 million in working capital loans to Colorado small businesses through 2022. It will promote small businesses recovery, save jobs, and help support Colorado’s economy,” said Colorado State Treasurer Dave Young. “We are thrilled to partner with First Southwest Community Fund and their Innovate Onwards Program to provide needed capital to rural Colorado.”

“As we enter the rebuilding and recovery phase from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are excited to offer this new program to small businesses and entrepreneurs in rural Colorado.” said Cass Walker, FSWCF Executive Director. “We’ve seen our rural businesses pivot their business models, innovate their services, and think outside the box on how to rebuild their organizations. This fund is geared to help with working capital needs as our economy ramps back up.”

The Innovate Onward is supported by ZOMA Foundation and the CLIMBER Fund, and will launch with $4 million in capital. For more information please visit Other funders interested in partnering on this fund, or creating a new fund, are encouraged to reach out to Cass Walker, Executive Director of First Southwest Community Fund at