I had less than $15,000 in savings when I started my private practice, and no other sources of income. That was enough to hire a web developer, pay my office rent, and meet my personal expenses for a little while, but it wouldn’t last long. So, I looked into financing options for small businesses and came across Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). I enrolled with a local program sponsor, and then received $9,000 over the next 2.5 years, financing a significant portion of my expenses during the early stages of my business and helping me become financially viable.
What are IDAs?
IDAs are matched savings accounts. Participants enroll with a program sponsor and agree to make monthly deposits to the account, held at a partnering financial institution, over a period of 1 to 4 years. Those deposits are then matched by private contributions, typically at a rate of 3:1. In Oregon, these contributions come from individuals and businesses throughout the state by way of the Oregon IDA Tax Credit. The resulting funds can be used by the participant to purchase assets. IDAs are primarily used for small business development, homeownership, and postsecondary education. Although most states have created or enacted IDA programs, not all are currently active or have funding.
How to enroll:
In Multnomah County, there are several organizations that offer small business development IDAs (links):
- Adelante Mujeres
- Catholic Charities
- Community Vision
- Hacienda Community Development Corporation
- Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
- MercyCorps Northwest (MCNW)
- Microenterprise Services of Oregon (MESO)
- Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA)
- Reach CDC
Your income must be below the IDA income eligibility limits and your net worth must be below $20,000, excluding a primary vehicle, a primary home, and up to $60,000 of retirement assets. If you meet these criteria, contact one of the organizations above to see about the possibility of enrolling.