Catalyst Fund

Helping to level the playing field for historically underrepresented entrepreneurs. The Catalyst Fund makes it easier for diverse entrepreneurs to get their small businesses off the ground.

The Catalyst Fund precipitates fundamental changes in traditional lending practices by building on your great ideas to accelerate your business growth.

Every person—no matter where they’re from—deserves the chance to get ahead. That’s why, with an understanding of your strengths, successes, and goals, we’re providing access to the tools you need. So you can take the next big leap.

We are working to ensure that more and more entrepreneurs have access to the training, tools, and skills they need to successfully run their businesses. 

Ultimately, the Catalyst Fund is designed to increase equity within the landscape of startups and early growth funding for historically underrepresented entrepreneurs – including entrepreneurs of colors – with the hopes of encouraging them to enter into industries that have higher rates of growth and success. Let’s make it happen!

Find additional details from typical terms to our integrated business advisory services below.


Get Started!

Please email Tiarra Wilkie, Mountain BizWorks’ Catalyst Program Manager, at tiarra@mountainbizworks.org with any issues related to your submission.



More than just a loan—a catalyst for your business.

At Mountain BizWorks, we understand that access-to-capital is just one of the vital resources needed to achieve business success. As such, the Catalyst Fund includes a program of tools to help our diverse founders and portfolio companies thrive. These tools include: Integrated Business Advisory Services, Credit Building, and Parachute Grants. Keep scrolling to learn a little more about each tool. 

Catalyst Fund Tool — 01

Integrated Business Advisory Services

Each Catalyst Fund portfolio company will have access to tailored technical assistance to help expand skills, fill gaps, or get technical advice (accounting,  marketing, etc.)

Catalyst Fund Tool — 02

Credit Building

Having strong credit is an important financial asset, yet we know people of color and immigrants have historically faced barriers to building positive credit, aggressive marketing from predatory pay-day or other unscrupulous lenders, and other challenges. All Founders in the Catalyst Fund will get to work with a credit analyst to review their credit and create a strategy to strengthen it. They’ll also have the ability to request a 0% interest credit repair loan if needed to consolidate, refinance, or otherwise address existing issues.

Catalyst Fund Tool — 03

Parachute Grants

If the business fails, the Founder will receive a one-time “parachute” grant of $4,000 to aid in transitioning to their next startup, job, or other stable situation (certain conditions apply).

Loan Details

Catalyst Fund loans are designed to help entrepreneurs of color start and grow their business from a place of confidence.  Typical loan terms follow:

  • Loans are available for up to $100,000 and may be funded in phases based on business milestones.
  • Loan terms are up to 10 years with a 5% fixed interest rate.
  • No payments for the first 3 months followed by 3 months of interest only payments. Regular principal and interest payments start in month 7.
  • No personal collateral is required. Loans are secured only by business assets.
  • No minimum credit score requirement, however, credit history is reviewed and programming includes opportunities for credit building.
  • There are no prepayment penalties.
  • Founders can provide an ITIN number in place of a Social Security Number.
  • Founders must agree to participate in tailored business advisory services.


Additional Requirements

  • Must be a for-profit or social enterprise business based in Western North Carolina
  • Limited to start-ups and early-stage businesses: must have between one and ten employees (can include founder/owner positions)
  • A solid business plan or at least an executive summary with clarity around your business model, next steps, use of funds, and ability to repay any loan
  • Be willing to present, if required, to the Catalyst Fund Advisory Council
  • Must be open to participating in tailored business advisory services program
  • Agree to provide ongoing financials and impact data while a part of the Fund
  • Must be a business with strong growth potential 
  • Program is subject to the availability of funds. We’re working to expand the available pool so that we can assist as many in our community as possible.


Get Started

Please email Tiarra Wilkie, Catalyst Program Manager, at tiarra@mountainbizworks.org with any issues related to your submission.



Catalyst Fund Advisory Council

We have been humbled by the interest in the Catalyst Fund and are  fortunate to have the opportunity to harness the exceptional and collaborative network of area leaders who are generously giving of their time to guide this vital work. With this Fund, we hope to amplify work deemed by the Council as an imperative to elevating long-term success and creating equitable and inclusive economic growth for diverse entrepreneurs across the region.

Libby Kyles 
Tzedek Social Justice Fund


Beverly Carlton
Olive Hill 

Stephanie Twitty
Eagle Market Streets

Duane Adams
AB Tech Small Business Center

Paula Avery
West Marion Community Forum

Rhonderia Waters 
First Citizens Bank

Lori Garcia-McCammon
True Ridge

Brandy Mills
Smallcakes Creamery






Get Started

Let's build on your great ideas and accelerate your business growth.

Are you struggling to get your small business off the ground? We want to help.


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