The MBA Program provides training, support, and funding through an initial grant and/or micro-loans to allow fledgling businesses to grow and flourish.
Please note: The 2019 program is full. All applications submitted will be put on the waiting list for 2020.
Click here for the 2019 MBA Business Directory.
Información para Solicitud
Business Eligibility Requirements
- Must be a resident of Walla Walla or College Place, or the business must be located within city limits of either city
- Must register and be licensed with applicable local, state, and federal agencies
- Must have 5 or fewer employees, including owner(s)
- Applicant must earn less than 80% of the area median income
- Maximum net worth of $20,000
Who is Mercy Corps Northwest (MCNW), and why are they involved?
- MCNW is the U.S. economic development office of Mercy Corps, the Portland-based international relief and development agency.
- Mercy Corps Northwest is a 501(C)3 non-profit, established in 1998 and is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).
- MCNW has created a program, Individual Development Account (IDA), which the cities of Portland and Seattle have used successfully.
- We are proposing to partner with MCNW to bring the IDA program to Walla Walla to help build and support entrepreneurial development.
What is the Individual Development Account (IDA)?
- An IDA is a special savings vehicle that helps those with limited financial resources build assets, gain valuable training, and enter the financial mainstream.
- The MCNW IDA match savings program operates on a 8:1 match ratio. Every $1 a participant saves is matched with $8 in grant money.
- The savings goal for all participants is $500, matched with $4,000 in grant money, for a total of $4,500.
Commonly asked questions regarding IDA eligibility
- Does my partner’s or spouse’s income count?
Yes, we look at household income. This includes domestic partnerships, live-in partners, and dependents. Roommates do not count toward household income.
- What sort of income counts?
Earned and unearned sources of income or benefits count toward eligibility
- Does credit history affect my eligibility for the IDA program?
- Can both my spouse and I get an IDA grant, if our businesses are different?
Yes, both spouses can enroll in the program as long as they have separate businesses.
- What can I use the money for?
IDA funds are prioritized for hard asset purchases, meaning equipment and machinery. The goal is to invest in long-term business assets that will increase your capacity or help you operate more effectively and efficiently. Up to 25% of funds can be used marketing such as website design, signage or professional branding. Vehicle purchases are approved on a case by case basis if it is their primary asset purchase (delivery business, taxi, food truck, and farming vehicles).
- What if I already bought my equipment – can I reimburse myself?
No. The IDA program does not pay off pre-existing debt or reimburse you for any purchases made prior to completion of the program. You will have four (4) months to disburse all funds.
- Do I have to complete a business plan?
Yes –a business plan is part of the IDA program requirements.
- Do we have to give Mercy Corps access to our savings account?
A custodial bank account with a partner bank will be set up in Mercy Corps Northwest’s and your name so we can track your monthly savings. You will not have permission to access your account without our written permission. If for any reason you do not finish the program, MCNW will always sign off for you to access your funds. MCNW never touches your savings.
- Do I have to pay taxes on my IDA grant funds?
No, in fact you are able to receive a credit.
What is involved in the business training and education components?
- 6-week, 18-hour course that covers a variety of topics aimed at those wanting to expand or start a business.
- Business and financial Terms
- Business registration, licensing, and taxes
- Credit counseling
- Marketing strategies
- Developing a business plan
How is this program funded?
The initial program budget is $119,700, which is provided by the following organizations and businesses:
- City of Walla Walla Community Development Block Grant – $80,000
- Port of Walla Walla – $5,000
- City of College Place – $7,200
- Banner Bank – $10,000
- Baker Boyer Bank – $10,000
- Community Bank – $5,000
- HAPO Community Credit Union – $2,500
- Blue Mountain Community Foundation - $6,000
- Walla Walla Community College – in-kind
What is involved in this pilot project?
- The City of Walla Walla would contract with MCNW to administer the program and provide interim progress reports.
- The oversight committee to be established will include representatives from the City, funders, Chamber of Commerce, Walla Walla Community College, and others.
- The program will be available in both English and Spanish and focus on underserved populations.
June 23, 2019 - Micro-business program expands, starts anew
May 3, 2019 - Yes, Micro-Business Program has great potential
May 1, 2019 - Micro-Business Program has great potential
April 28, 2019 - First graduates emerge from Micro-Business program
Dec. 2, 2018 - Micro-Business Assistance Program helps budding local businesses grow
Thank you to all of our partners who have made this program possible.