In 2021, UMB donated $2 million to organizations uplifting their communities in Kansas City and Denver. Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute (RMMFI) in Denver was one of those organizations. We sat down with Jessica Sveen, interim CEO of RMMFI, to learn more about their involvement in the community and their partnership with UMB.
What makes RMMFI special?
RMMFI creates the space for communities and people of all backgrounds to realize their unique potential through the power of entrepreneurship. We offer a unique approach to business development through a proven mix of classroom, coaching, capital and community. We are the only organization in Denver whose programs focus on the concept of the whole entrepreneur, resulting in programming that is customized for each individual entrepreneur and their unique needs.
How has RMMFI impacted the Denver community?
We believe it takes a community to launch and support vibrant, long-lasting businesses. Since our beginning in 2008, RMMFI has graduated 42 cohorts of its Business Launch Boot Camp (BLBC) with an 85% graduation rate, lent over
$980,528 across 319 micro-capital loans with a 95% repayment rate and launched 356 small businesses in the Denver metro area through 45 cohorts.
In what ways has RMMFI grown?
Since 2021, RMMFI has helped 165 unique entrepreneurs navigate their personal business journey and graduate from our BLBC, as well as supported the launch of 97 businesses. We’ve hired five new staff members, which has helped our community engagement team grow. This investment in our outreach has provided us with record breaking applications to the last two cohorts in Denver and Aurora. This growth has also increased our activated volunteer base and grown it to 165 unique mentors filling 235 roles this year. RMMFI is also approaching the $1 million dollars lent milestone, lending its highest amount yet, $50,000 to a graduate who graduated from Boot Camp a couple years ago.
New community programs
UMB’s grant to RMMFI has helped support, launch and grow exciting new community programs in Denver including:
Spanish Language Program
UMB’s financial donation to RMMFI has helped the organization expand its Spanish Language Program to provide year-round curriculum for the growing demand for Spanish-language support in the Denver community. The decision to expand RMMFI’s Spanish-language programming was made after successfully piloting a program with their community partner, Re:Vision, which has supported nine Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs so far this year.
RMMFI has tackled technology barriers and met the cultural desire for in-person programming with instrumental pivots that allow for bilingual online learning as well as in person Spanish-only learning.
RMMFI has introduced entrepreneurship to the Denver community and how it can serve as a powerful tool for improving economic mobility, reducing recidivism and improving overall community health. With this in mind, RMMFI and its community partner, the Second Chance Center, are reimagining access to social and economic inclusion through the REBILT program.
The program focuses on building community wealth through mindful, strategic investments in formerly incarcerated entrepreneurs in training sites in Aurora, Denver, Sterling, Trinidad and their surrounding areas.
Thrive Business Accelerator (TBA) Program
RMMFI has also been able to provide additional support to entrepreneurs after they successfully launch their business with a new program, Thrive Business Accelerator (TBA). The TBA is designed to mimic the format of RMMFI’s core program, BLBC, but elevate the content for businesses looking to grow or transition out of their newly launched phase.
Entrepreneurs accepted into the TBA are eligible to receive a low-barrier $1,000.00 loan and the cohort is designed to fast-track the approval process for RMMFI’s Thrive Loan product which maxes out at $75,000.00.
To learn more about UMB and our connections to the communities we serve, visit our community involvement page and follow us on Facebook‡ and LinkedIn‡.