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Microfinance

While accessing capital is a vital part of creating opportunity and a robust commercial landscape, too many would-be entrepreneurs lack options. The Hostetler/Wrigley Foundation supports organizations that prioritize expanding financial options to people and businesses that have historically lacked access to traditional financing, with a focus on small female- and minority-owned businesses and those that help underserved communities grow and thrive. The foundation supports organizations such as the LiftFund Inc.’s Women’s Dream Makers Fund, Kiva Microfunds, Accion Opportunity Fund, and more.

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How Microloans make a difference

The need

Female business owners and entrepreneurs of color have difficulty getting access to the capital they need to grow.

The response

The LiftFund’s Dream Makers Fund, a revolving microloan fund for entrepreneurs.

Small businesses need capital to grow. Yet despite the growth of female-owned businesses—the number of women-owned businesses increased 21% between 2014 and 2019—women entrepreneurs are offered smaller loans across the board and pay higher interest rates than men. The loan market for entrepreneurs is so tilted that women ask for roughly $35,000 less in financing than men, per Fundera. White men have easier access to capital. Loans, even those provided through the Small Business Administration (SBA), can be a maze of paperwork and red tape. The LiftFund is trying to change that.

Launched in 1994 in San Antonio, LiftFund helps secure financing in 14 states with one simple goal: to level the financial playing field and give entrepreneurs the capital, education, and resources they need. The organization works across all sectors of the economy, providing financing options—through the SBA, community lenders, foundations, and traditional banks—and technical support to entrepreneurs with limited access to resources.

The Hostetler / Wrigley Foundation saw an opportunity to help lift up local, diverse small businesses through LiftFund’s Dream Makers Fund. “The Dream Makers Fund is working to break down systemic barriers many small business owners face by giving money and resources to those who have long been shut out,” Hostetler/Wrigley Foundation president Sue Hostetler says. “This aligns with exactly what we’re trying to do at the foundation: create opportunity for female- and minority-owned businesses through microfinancing.”

The fund is a revolving business loan fund that extends lending to owners who typically are not able to secure capital. When the loans are repaid, the capital is redistributed to new small business owners. This structure creates a constant loop of money loaned and repaid, meaning that the Hostetler/Wrigley Foundation’s $100,000 donation will result in measurable and meaningful impacts on small businesses for years to come.

And the LiftFund not only helps entrepreneurs build their businesses, it also helps their communities thrive. Every dollar loaned to a small business through LiftFund produced $14 in economic activity in their community, per the LiftFund’s 2017 economic impact report. Th Hostetler / Wrigley Foundation and the LiftFund’s Dream Makers Fund can make a big difference for small business



LiftFund’s client roster is diverse: nearly 55% identify as Hispanic and 22% as African American.

Through the end of 2020, LiftFund had made 23,445 loans to the tune of nearly $369 million for small business owners.

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Entrepreneurship transforms families

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Insights

How LiftFund helps small businesses grow


In 2006, Pilar Gonzalez was a divorced mother of three looking to make a little extra cash. She started making yogurt-based dips in her Mission, Texas home. She quickly outgrew her kitchen, moving into the garage. She kept making dips day and night, selling to a slowly but steadily expanding network of friends, family, and fans.

Then things got real in 2014 when she won H-E-B’s Primo Picks Quest for Texas. The contest gives locally-owned, small food and beverage suppliers a chance to have their items considered for placement on H-E-B shelves. With the winnings, Gonzalez secured an SBA-approved back loan and moved Dip it by Pilar to its own manufacturing center.

The growth was great, but she struggled to maintain her transportation and distribution channels. She needed her own refrigerated box truck, and went back to the SBA for an additional loan. The SBA referred her to LiftFund, who helped her secure the financing she needed.

“The LiftFund helped me out. I received all the support I needed to grow,” Gonzalez says. “They treated me like a person, not a number. They saw a hardworking business owner who needed the help and opportunity to grow her business. They believed in me.”

The refrigerated truck made the difference. Dip it by Pilar products are now sold in over 250 H-E-B stores in Texas and Mexico.


“We have grown and are now in international markets,” Gonzalez says. “The LiftFund thinks of you like family. It's huge.” Gonzalez has come a long way from making dips in her kitchen, and the LiftFund helped her achieve her goals. “They have made a difference in my business and in my life,” she says. “And for the people who work for me.”