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SBA Awards Mercy Corps PRIME Grant to Help Emerging Microentrepreneurs Gain Access to Capital

Mercy Corps Receives $167,000 PRIME Grant, $5 Million in PRIME Grants Awarded to 30 Organizations Nationally
Release Date: 
Tuesday, October 1, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) awards Mercy Corps a $167,000 grant from the SBA Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs, or more commonly known as PRIME.

Mercy Corps is one of 30 organizations nationwide that collectively were awarded $5 million in PRIME grant funding. These nonprofit organizations help low-income entrepreneurs gain access to capital to establish and expand their small businesses.

The SBA placed special emphasis in this year’s competition on projects that will offer training and technical assistance to strengthen economically disadvantaged businesses, particularly those that service entrepreneurs in Opportunity Zones, rural areas and Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZones).

“Many microentrepreneurs start out as ‘pre-bankable,’ yet we’ve seen time and time again how even a small amount of financing can lead to substantial business growth and job creation,” SBA Pacific Northwest Regional Administrator Jeremy Field said. “PRIME grants empower nonprofit microlenders to provide access to capital and technical assistance to aspiring microentrepreneurs.”

Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration,Mercy Corps Northwest hosts the only Women’s Business Center (WBC) in Oregon to provide education, financing and other resources to help entrepreneurs succeed.

“We are eager to continue the shared work with Mercy Corps Northwest and the Walla Walla community that ensures economic opportunities are available in rural communities, Mercy Corps Northwest Washington State Manager Edwin Rios said. “Our programs support the growth of a thriving microenterprise environment –inclusive across language, culture, and socio-economic status – by offering education and funding opportunities that are not otherwise accessible. Over the last year, our clients included single mothers, bakers, architects and more who together created and retained 80 jobs in the local community. We are thrilled to see where the next year takes us."

“We are proud of our role in supporting emerging microentrepreneurs in obtaining financing needed to build their businesses,” SBA Portland District Director Martin Golden said. “Nonprofit microlenders like Mercy Corps Northwest help deploy valuable capital and services to small businesses so they can continue to be the economic backbone of their communities.”

This year’s 30 PRIME grant recipients come from 22 states, and eight of the recipients are in Opportunity Zones. President Trump signed legislation creating Opportunity Zones in 2017 to spur new capital investment in America’s economically distressed communities.

Nearly 9,000 communities in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and five territories have been designated as Opportunity Zones.

The PRIME grants range from $75,000 to $250,000, and typically require at least 50% in matching funds or in-kind contributions. In total, more than 130 organizations applied for PRIME grants for 2019.  

PRIME was created by Congress as part of the Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs Act of 1999. Grant funds will be made available on September 30, 2019 and the project period for each grant is one year.

For more information on SBA PRIME grants and a list of this year’s grantees, visit


About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality.  As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit The Portland District Office serves Oregon and southwestern Washington with an office location in Portland, Oregon.