Access to Finance, Part 1: A Survey of Funders Report Released

November 13, 2023 Press Release

Access to Finance

Accelerate Montana's Rural Innovation Initiative (AMRII), Women’s Entrepreneurship and Leadership Lab, and Catalyze Global Impact LLC are thrilled to unveil the eagerly awaited report, "Access to Finance in Montana: Part 1 - A Survey of Funders." Embracing the vision of inclusive prosperity throughout Montana, regardless of location or identity, the team is dedicated to fostering a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem. We believe in nurturing the seeds of potential, innovation, and community vitality, striving to create a future where opportunities flourish for everyone.

This report shares insights about who provides small business finance, which businesses receive what type and volume of financing, what are the financing needs expressed by businesses, and how to ease market bottlenecks in the flow of small business finance across Montana. The project team, guided by a deeply experienced advisory committee from across Montana, designed and implemented two quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews of lenders, investors, state and federal agencies, and foundations that fund Montana’s small businesses. This first report on funders presents the findings of this initiative over 2022-23.

Key Highlights from the Report Include:

● Funder Perspectives: Insights from Montana’s lenders, investors, government programs, and foundations detailing their decision criteria to select businesses, current funding levels, and operational challenges.

● Recommendations: Actionable recommendations for lenders, investors, economic development organizations, policymakers, and entrepreneurs to enhance the accessibility and effectiveness of small business finance.

AMRII believes that this report will serve as a valuable resource for entrepreneurs, policymakers, and financial institutions alike. By understanding the perspectives of funders and the challenges faced by businesses, stakeholders can work together to foster a more supportive and conducive financial environment for entrepreneurship in Montana.

"We are excited to share the insights gathered from this survey, as they shed light on the intricate dynamics of accessing finance for businesses in our state," said Karl Unterschuetz, Program Manager at AMRII. "This report is not just a compilation of data; it’s a start to a roadmap towards a more inclusive and robust financial ecosystem that can nurture more small businesses and innovation, driving economic growth."

“Montana benefits from a broad range of lenders and investors. Yet small businesses, the core of Montana’s economy, have long reported lack of access to finance as their biggest challenge. Unlocking the bottlenecks in small business finance will help our state flourish,” noted Dr. Jennifer Isern, CEO of Catalyze Global Impact LLC. “We look forward to working with allies across the state to tackle these challenges.”

"This study is critical to our statewide approach to economic development. The data details what financial products are being used by entrepreneurs and the nuances of the flow of funding to women and native entrepreneurs. With this research, we hope to catalyze innovative approaches" Said Morgan Stemberger, Director of WELL.

The full report is available for download at


For media inquiries, please contact:

Karl Unterschuetz

Program Manager

Accelerate Montana's Rural Innovation Initiative




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