Natural CapitalInvestment Fund

Business Finance


Frequently Asked Questions

What is NCIF?
Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF) is a business loan fund that provides debt financing to small and emerging businesses. We focus on entrepreneurs and enterprises that are good stewards of natural resources or provide vital community services. NCIF is a U.S. Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).

Where does NCIF operate?
Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF) seeks to fund triple-bottom-line small and emerging businesses in our core service geography:WhereWeWork NCIF map

  • West Virginia
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia (except Northern Virginia)
  • Appalachian regions of Maryland, Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky and South Carolina
  • Georgia (logging industry loans only)

We can also provide loans under $50,000 to forestry-related businesses and local food-related projects across the U.S, in conjunction with a local lending partner.

What’s a CDFI?
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are non-governmental entities with the primary mission of providing funding for small business development and affordable housing in underserved, economically distressed communities. NCIF is a member of Opportunity Finance Network, the CDFI trade association.
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How is NCIF structured?
NCIF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is a supporting organization of The Conservation Fund, a national non-profit dedicated to practicing conservation to achieve environmental and economic outcomes. The Conservation Fund launched NCIF in 2001.

Where does NCIF obtain its funding?
NCIF obtains loan capital and operating support from state and federal agencies, private foundations, financial institutions, and individuals. NCIF also funds its operations through interest income and fees earned on our lending. For a complete list of our supporters, please visit the Investors and Funders page.

Who can borrow from NCIF?
NCIF lends to companies and non-profits that have a positive impact on the natural environment or provide basic human needs. Sectors of particular interest include:

  • Local and value-added agriculture
  • Renewable energy and energy efficiency
  • Sustainable forest products
  • Recycling
  • Heritage tourism and ecotourism
  • Natural products and medicines
  • Water conservation and water quality
  • Vital community services

How can NCIF funds be used?

  • Leveraging traditional debt from banks and other collateral-based lenders. NCIF often partners with other lenders to provide the subordinated debt needed to complete a transaction.
  • Fixed assets, such as equipment, real estate, and technology.
  • Working capital to grow sales through increased inventory, hiring, or marketing.

How much can NCIF lend? What do the terms look like?
Amounts: $5,000 to $500,000.  As a USDA Business & Industry Guarantee Lender, NCIF can lend up to $2.5 Million. NCIF is also an approved SBA 7(a) Community Advantage Lender and USDA Intermediary Relending Program Lender.

Terms depend on the use of capital:

  • Working capital loans: 1-3 years.
  • Equipment loans: 3-7 years.
  • Real estate loans: up to 15 years.

Interest rates:  tied to the prime rate; based on 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 1%- 2% of the loan amount, depending on the type of project.  Borrowers pay all loan closing costs, including filing fees and 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? 
Please call Anna Tefft, NCIF’s Director of Lending at 336-734-6902 to review your request before submitting an application.  The NCIF application is available on the Apply for a Loan page. Or, we’ll be happy to send you an application by mail.

How long does the application process take?
The speed of the loan approval process depends upon the completeness of the information provided by the borrower and the complexity of the transaction. Typically, a borrower should expect between 30 to 45 days from application submission to approval.

Does NCIF provide grants?
No. NCIF is a lender. In some cases, NCIF will underwrite the cost of technical assistance to NCIF portfolio companies.

What happens if a business doesn’t repay the loan?
We understand that entrepreneurs can fall on challenging times. We work with borrowers to restructure their loans if necessary. If restructuring is unsuccessful, NCIF uses all available legal means to recover the loan amount.