Frequently Asked Questions
Where does NCIF operate?
NCIF seeks loan and investment opportunities that meet our triple bottom line investment criteria in:
- West Virginia
- North Carolina
- Appalachian portions of: Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, and Kentucky
- Southern Georgia (logging industry loans only)
- South Carolina (logging industry loans only)
What does NCIF stand for?
NCIF stands for Natural Capital Investment Fund, a business loan fund that provides debt and equity financing to small and emerging businesses located in our service area. We have a particular focus on entrepreneurs and enterprises that are good stewards of natural resources, and are a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) by the U.S. Treasury.
What’s a CDFI?
CDFIs are specialized financial institutions serving borrowers in economically distressed communities who cannot meet the credit standards of traditional financial institutions because of perceived credit risk. Like other CDFIs operating around the country, NCIF provides a wide range of flexible financial services to its customers in economically distressed urban and rural communities.
NCIF is also certified as a Community Development Entity (CDE) by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, having met the eligibility requirements set forth in the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Program statute, and a certified B&I Guaranteed Lender. NCIF is a member of Opportunity Finance Network, a nationwide association of CDFIs.
How is NCIF structured?
NCIF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is a wholly owned affiliate of The Conservation Fund, a national 501(c)(3) with a dual-purpose mission to promote economic development and environmental protection. The Conservation Fund launched NCIF in 2001 to accelerate rural small business development in West Virginia by increasing access to financial resources.
Where does NCIF obtain the funds it loans to businesses?
NCIF obtains loan funds (as well as operating capital and technical assistance funding) from state and federal agencies, private foundations, financial institutions, and individuals. For a complete list of our funders, please visit the Funding and Community Partners page under the Who We Are section of our web site.
What Is NCIF’s lending and investment focus?
NCIF provides flexible financing and targeted technical assistance to natural resource-based businesses in economically distressed communities. These businesses range from small crafts enterprises and specialty food manufacturers to multi-million dollar forest products enterprises.
NCIF lends to and invests in companies and projects that promote sustainable development and have a positive impact on human health and the natural environment. Sectors of particular interest include: value-added and sustainable agriculture; renewable energy and energy efficiency; heritage and recreation-based tourism; water conservation and treatment; sustainable forestry and forest products; natural medicines and green products; and recycling
Who can borrow from NCIF?
We look for expanding, locally owned businesses that meet NCIF’s triple bottom line investment criteria in our service area. Low income and disadvantaged entrepreneurs are encouraged to seek funding.
How can NCIF funds be used?
Funds can be used for a variety of purposes, including:
- Patient, equity-like capital that leverages traditional debt from banks and other collateral-based lenders.
- Working capital to grow sales through increased inventory, marketing campaigns, or broker contracts.
- Financing for fixed assets, such as technology, equipment and real estate.
- Equity investments for companies with exceptional growth opportunities.
How much can NCIF lend? What terms does NCIF offer?
NCIF loans range from $15,000 to $250,000. NCIF equity investments range from $50,000 to $250,000. The term of an NCIF loan depend on the use of the capital — working capital loans may be as short as 1 year, equipment loans are typically 3-7 years, and real estate loans can have terms up to 15 years. Interest rates are tied to the prime rate and vary based on the loan purpose, terms of repayment, strength of collateral, and the borrower’s credit history.
What fees does NCIF charge?
NCIF charges an origination fee of up to 1.5% of the loan amount. The borrower is required to pay all loan closing costs, including filing fees and any attorney’s fees. The origination fee and loan closing costs can be financed, at the option of the borrower, as part of the loan.
How do I apply for a loan?
We recommend that you call us to review your proposed project first. The NCIF application is available in the Getting Started section of this web site. Or, we’ll be happy to send you an application by mail.
What happens after I submit an application? How long does the process take?
After an initial review of your application, an NCIF lender will call you to learn more about your business and arrange for a site visit. If the results of NCIF due diligence into a company and its financing needs are favorable, an NCIF lender writes up a recommendation to the NCIF loan committee, which meets several times per month. The speed of the process depends upon the completeness of the information provided by the borrower and the complexity of the transaction. Sometimes the loan committee’s answer to a loan request is “Not now.”
Does NCIF provide grants?
No. NCIF provides loans and equity to businesses. In some cases, NCIF will underwrite the cost of technical assistance to NCIF portfolio companies.