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.”


Impact Through Growth Equity

With Wright Steenrod and Moses Icyishaka

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About This Episode

On this episode of More Than Profit, Bryce talks with Wright Steenrod, a partner at Chrysalis Ventures, a venture capital firm that transforms industries with information technology. With an interest in finance and helping businesses grow, Wright has enjoyed the opportunity to be a growth investor partnering with CEOs and entrepreneurs. He acknowledges the tie between growth and impact and that most businesses are integrating impact into their mission. Together with Moses Icyishaka of Access Ventures, Wright is developing a new fund called Iriba. It is a growth equity firm dedicated to helping companies combine their return strategy with social impact.  Moses, Wright, and Bryce discuss how aligned business models sharpen a company’s culture and mission, while also creating more long-term value. They also talk about the metrics and system of measuring the impact of the companies they invest in.

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“Growth and impact is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also the best financial thing to do.”

Wright Steenrod


Democratizing Capital

With Jonny Price

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About This Episode

On this episode, Bryce talks with Jonny Price, Founder of KivaUS and current Director of Fundraising at Wefunder. From management consulting to economic development and democratizing capital, Jonny has always focused on being present for the people around him and optimizing his experiences for learning. Jonny and Bryce talk about wealth disparity, entrepreneurship, and the evolution of thoughts around both through Jonny’s experiences at Oliver Wyman, Kiva, and now Wefunder.

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“Why did I work at a nonprofit for seven years? Why am I working at a very mission driven startup right now? Looking back, it is because of this value system that I have.”

Jonny Price


There's No Handbook To Being CEO

With Allie Burns

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About This Episode

On this episode, Bryce talks with Allie Burns, CEO of Village Capital, about the accessibility of entrepreneurship. How do we encourage innovation when there are funding gaps and potential failure is real, scary, and expensive? Allie talks about how thinking through these questions has informed how she thinks about the entrepreneurial ecosystem. She walks us through her experience becoming CEO of an already established venture capital firm, Village Capital, what that transition was like for her and for the organization, as well as the lessons learned through the process personally and professionally.

Allie Burns does not have your typical CEO story. In fact, in her current role, she was initially hired to oversee operations and before that, had spent time in tech and communications with groups like AOL, Case FoundationStartup America, and Rise of the Rest. She actually began her time in college thinking she wanted to be in journalism before settling on corporate communications. It wasn’t until later in her life that she began to pursue a deeper alignment of her values with her work.

Today, she is the CEO a global non-profit that has an unbelievable reputation around the world in creatively supporting the needs of entrepreneurs. Village Capital truly is at the front edge of the movement to change the system in ways that makes it more inclusive and empowers a wider range of entrepreneurs.

Bryce Butler serves on her board and as such, they had a fun discussion around not just what drives her, where she came from,  and what inspires her, but also some profound and critical lessons for founders going through a transition. These types of transitions can be tough, and yet, inevitably at some point, it is going to happen and there is much to be learned from Allie and her story.

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“We are not going to transform these communities if we’re keeping people out of the system.”

Allie Burns