Growth Loan Playbook: Your Guide to Launching a Character-based Lending Program in Your Community

This playbook is an open-sourced culmination of the steps we took and lessons we learned in building a community-first, character lending process. We designed the Growth Loan as part of a larger strategy to make our local economy more accessible to all. Download the Growth Loan Playbook to learn more about how to bring character-based lending to your community!


Growth Loan Playbook


We believe an economy should be equitable, resilient, and dynamic.

At Access Ventures, we envision a world where small business owners can access the capital they need to improve on early traction, and where entrepreneurs can secure capital that works for their businesses by leveraging “equitable collateral”—collateral that can be acquired regardless of class, race and/or gender. Lending to small businesses at the early “growth” stages of development is particularly risky, but providing capital at this stage arguably provides the greatest opportunity for impact.

Over six years, the Growth Loan program unlocked over $1M in loans for area borrowers.  The Growth Loan program enabled borrowers to access the capital they needed to grow their businesses, hire employees, prioritize their cash flow needs, and develop meaningful relationships with more traditional banks over time.   

This resource contains templates for:

  • A Guide to Character-based Lending
  • Pre-qualification survey
  • Character Reference Overview
  • Loan Use
  • Growth Loan Applicant Pitch
  • Loan Committee Vote Form
  • Marketing Best Practices
  • Impact Survey Questionaire

“We hope the history, design, and guide to character lending presented in this playbook is a useful resource as you seek to create impact in your own communities by making our economy more equitable and accessible to all.”