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Access to Finance in Montana – A Study of the Funding Landscape for Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses – Part 1: Survey of Funders 2023

Accelerate Montana, Catalyze Global Impact LLC, and the Women’s
Entrepreneurship & Leadership Lab launched an initiative on Access to Finance for Small Businesses in
Montana in 2022. This initiative aims to better understand who provides small business finance, which
businesses receive what type and volume of financing, what the financing needs are expressed by
businesses, and how to ease market bottlenecks in the flow of small business finance across Montana.

 

To achieve this goal, the project team, guided by a deeply experienced advisory committee from across
Montana, designed and implemented a quantitative survey and qualitative interviews in 2022-23 of
lenders, investors, state and federal agencies, and foundations that fund Montana’s small businesses.
Based on the survey and interviews, this current report on small business funders shares key features
of the landscape for small business finance in Montana. The quantitative survey of funders was co-
designed and administered by the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research
(BBER) between late 2022 and early 2023.

 

Of the 112 lending and investing organizations invited to
respond to this survey, 36 (32%) participated. In addition, the
project team contacted over 125 people and interviewed over 50
people through qualitative research to explore the initial survey
findings and delve deeper into the challenges and opportunities
facing small business funders.

 

Genesis of this Initiative: Accelerate Montana, Catalyze Global Impact LLC, and the Women’s
Entrepreneurship & Leadership Lab launched an initiative on Access to Finance for Small Businesses in
Montana in 2022. This initiative aims to better understand who provides small business finance, which
businesses receive what type and volume of financing, what the financing needs are expressed by
businesses, and how to ease market bottlenecks in the flow of small business finance across Montana.
To achieve this goal, the project team, guided by a deeply experienced advisory committee from across
Montana, designed and implemented a quantitative survey and qualitative interviews in 2022-23 of
lenders, investors, state and federal agencies, and foundations that fund Montana’s small businesses.
Based on the survey and interviews, this current report on small business funders shares key features
of the landscape for small business finance in Montana. The quantitative survey of funders was co-
designed and administered by the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research
(BBER) between late 2022 and early 2023.

 

This report provides quantitative information, views of specialists across the state of Montana, and
recommendations that state and federal policymakers, lenders, investors, and economic
development organizations can use to shape small business programs. The study findings are
expected to generate discussions to pursue new opportunities that will increase the flow of
financing to early-stage and small businesses in Montana. This report will be followed by a second
report, Accesses to Finance in Montana, Part 2, A Survey of Small Businesses, that will include
information on business demographics, experience with financial services providers, use of
financial services to start and grow businesses, and business constraints and opportunities.

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