Best Practices

SourceLink Virginia: Virginia Community Economic Network and Accion Launch Strategic Partnership

Published Apr 11, 2016

By: Conaway Haskins

Virginia Community Economic Network and Accion, launch strategic partnership to address gaps in access to small business capital state-wide

Accion and the Virginia Community Economic Network (VCEN) recently announced a collaborative initiative to increase microloan access to small businesses in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The two nonprofit organizations launched a pilot project making Accion’s affordable microloans and support services available to VA small businesses via VCEN’s business resource portal.

This new effort helps Virginia entrepreneurs start and grow their small businesses through microfinancing and business education, addresses gaps in access to capital and credit in under served markets around the state.

“Despite the general economic recovery, access to high-quality capital and credit options remains a challenge for Virginia’s startups, microbusinesses, and small businesses,” says Conaway Haskins, Executive Director of the Virginia Community Economic Network. “Working with Accion and our local partners is a strategic and cost-effective solution to filling a significant gap affecting Virginia’s entrepreneurship support ecosystems.”

Accion makes small business loans from $1,000 to $50,000, an important but often overlooked range for early-stage and growing small businesses. In 2015, the organization received over 360 applications from Virginians and subsequently made 20 loans. The average loan size was around $9,000.

"Businesses need both access to capital and financial education in order to grow. That growth produces a large, positive impact on families and communities. Accion helps these businesses access these tools and grow sustainably," says Paul Quintero, CEO of Accion East. “We are happy to work with VCEN and its partners to increase our lending activity in Virginia.”

By working with VCEN and its partners, Accion hopes to significant increase the number of successful loan applicants.  The pilot project will initially begin in several targeted regions, including Central Virginia, Hampton Roads, and the I-81 corridor. If the pilot phase succeeds, the project will be expanded to the rest of the state.

By connecting entrepreneurs to the business assistance services that they need coupled with access to reasonably-priced smaller loans, Accion and VCEN will expand the pipeline of credit-worthy businesses that will be better-positioned to seek future funding from larger financial institutions and investors.

Small businesses in VA can take advantage of this partnership online at:

About the Virginia Community Economic Network
The Virginia Community Economic Network (VCEN) is a statewide convener, thought leader, and public voice for the creation and expansion of community economic opportunities throughout the Commonwealth. VCEN promotes innovative, creative and sustainable local entrepreneurship and economic development strategies that spur job creation, increase wealth-building, and enhance community vitality. VCEN’s website is the premier online resource connecting entrepreneurs and small businesses to resource providers across the Commonwealth. For more information on VCEN visit

About Accion 
Accion is a nonprofit microlender that empowers business owners through access to capital and financial education. Accion East is part of the Accion, U.S. network, the nation’s largest nonprofit microlending network. Since opening its doors in 1991, Accion East has provided over $154 million in capital to small business owners, creating or sustaining over 96,800 jobs within local communities. For more information on Accion East visit

VCEN – Conaway Haskins, 703-946-3089,

Accion - Lauren Yothers, 646-833-4532,

Content contributed by SourceLink Virginia, a proud affiliate of SourceLink, R & D for your entrepreneurial community.