Working With Alternative Lenders like WWBIC To Grow Your Food Business


In Edible-Alpha® Podcast Episode #5, Tera talks with Andrea Hughes and An Nguyen of Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation, or WWBIC. WWBIC works with both women and men by offering relevant business classes, business loans up to $250,000, assistance with personal financial management, and connections to people who can make things happen for business owners and entrepreneurs across the state of Wisconsin. These classes and technical assistance help business owners document their business plan and get prepared to raise money.

An and Andrea talk about how a relationship with a lender is valuable, and when they outgrow the services that WWBIC can provide, they can grow with a lender. WWBIC gets them ready to talk to a lender by putting the business owner’s business plan in a dollars and cents language for the banker.  This includes helping entrepreneurs develop realistic financial projections and proforma financial statements.  WWBIC also gathers community resources that already exist depending on the business model and needs of the client, including the SBDC, SCORE, Food Finance Institute, and others.  For example, although they have a loan fund program, they encourage their clients to seek conventional financing before applying for a WWBIC loan.  Even if they start out with a WWBIC loan, they can grow out of WWBIC’s services when they seek the next round of funding, need more complicated technical assistance, or seek to package an Equity/Convertible debt raise.

An and Andrea also talk about how all entrepreneurs need to invest some of their own money in the business to have “skin the game,” and how the best entrepreneurs are the ones that are coachable. As they grow and learn, which they will constantly be doing, they seek to learn from the best people.  When investors call Tera as part of their due diligence process on a potential investment, the first question they ask is “are they coachable?”