Last week, members of our staff and board attended Opportunity Finance Network’s annual conference in Philadelphia. As it happens every year, the conference served as an opportunity to hear successes from other CDFIs and learn about what organizations are doing to meet the needs of their local community.

With everything going on at CLF over the past year (program expansion, organizational growth, and new entrepreneurship endeavors), this year’s conference provided an abundance of information that we have brought back to South Carolina.

One panel of direct interest was Successful Entrepreneurs Give Back, which examined two national programs that support entrepreneurship efforts on the local level. The Tory Burch Foundation and the Boston Beer Company/Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream are pioneering programs that provide entrepreneurs access to top-level business experts, training, and financing.

The Tory Burch Foundation supports the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs and their families through small business loans, mentoring programs, and entrepreneurial education. The Foundation provides loans ranging from $500 to $50,000; provides entrepreneurship training and guidance for high-potential, low-income women; and provides entrepreneurship education customized specifically for early-stage, women-owned businesses with the passion and potential for growth.

Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream was founded in 2008 to champion the great ideas of small business owners nationwide who are pursuing their passion in the food and beverage, hospitality, and craft brewing industries. Small business loans ranging from $500 to $25,000 are provided to meet the capital needs of businesses in order to expand, purchase inventory or equipment, marketing, and more.

As we look to expand our Feeding Innovation entrepreneurship program statewide, we will learn from these programs that have a proven success record and draw from their experiences and challenges.

For more information on Feeding Innovation, including registration for our November 13 orientation, please visit our website.