Between 2007 and 2017, the number of minority-owned small businesses grew by 79% -- about 10 times faster than the overall growth rate for U.S. small businesses during the same period. Despite this growth, minority entrepreneurs are three times more likely to be rejected for a loan and loans to women-owned businesses are 31% smaller on average.

Here in Oregon, minority own-businesses received a limited number of loans. Since 2007, the number of U.S. Small Business Administation-backed loans to African American-owned businesses in Oregon decreased 94 percent, and in 2019, the SBA backed just four loans to black-owned businesses in the state. The number of loans to Native Americans decreased 41 percent, loans to Asian American entrepreneurs decreased 32 percent, and loans to Hispanic borrowers decreased 20 percent.


Due to the lack of capital minority-owned businesses are unable to weather recessions or grow. For example, after COVID-19 hit in March this year, only 12% of all funding under the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program went to minority entrepreneurs. Without the capital to weather the financial recession, there was a 41 percent decline in black business owners from February to April, and a 32 percent drop in Latino business owners. That's compared to a 17% decrease in white business owners. 



To address the capital gap here in Central Oregon, Facebook, the OSU-Cascades Co-Lab, and multiple local nonprofits are teaming up to launch The Blue Fund in Central Oregon. Through this program, the partners will provide coaching to help underserved entrepreneurs access loans, investment capital, and grants.  The program will cover:  

  1. What are some available funding resources?
  2. What are some common mistakes in applications, and how do you fix them?
  3. How do you prepare your business and create a draft application that can be used for multiple funding sources?

Further, the program will provide small grants to underserved entrepreneurs upon completion of the program.

Applications for the first cohort of entrepreneurs will open in January with a focus on assisting minority entrepreneurs in Crook County, Deschutes county, and Jefferson County who have had difficulty accessing other grants or lending programs. Entrepreneurs will get one-on-one business coaching, business planning services, and financial literacy training from the OSU-Cascades Co-Lab to help them sustain and grow their businesses. Upon completion of the training, entrepreneurs will be prepared to access grants and loans from a number of entities in Oregon.

The Blue Fund will work with underserved and minority entrepreneurs.  To learn more about the Blue Fund, the program and the grants, please complete the application:




This collaboration will support financially excluded entrepreneurs in Central Oregon. The Co-Lab will provide technical assistance and support to entrepreneurs and will pull together supplemental funding sources.  

Several local organizations will work with the Blue Fund to inform participants of with local, state and national funding opportunities that can help small businesses grow and better weather financial setbacks. 

The Co-Lab's students consultants will market the program, contact underserved entrepreneurs, research funding options, assist the Co-Lab's Executive Director with building the program, and will assist collaborators with delivering workshops and mentorship.

Program Collaborators


The Blue Fund will work with underserved and minority entrepreneurs.  To learn more about the Blue Fund, the program and the grants, please complete the application:



Facebook is proud to support the Blue Fund. The company has been part of the Central Oregon community since breaking ground on its Prineville data center in 2010. 

For more information, visit