Invest in Wisconsin (IIW) partners deliver affordable business, community facility and consumer auto loan products throughout the state. IIW ensures impartial access to capital, which helps to reduce disparities and accelerate social and economic impact in minority and low-income communities. Wendy Baumann, president and chief visionary officer of Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), shares how IIW provides resources to assist businesses in the state.  

Q: Tell me about Invest in Wisconsin?

A: Invest in Wisconsin is a collaborative comprising four leading Wisconsin-based community development financial institutions (CDFIs)–Community Assets for People (CAfP), First American Capital Corporation (FACC), Forward Community Investments (FCI) and WWBIC. Together we provide a variety of lending products and services. IIW identified five Wisconsin cities as hubs for its lending activities: Appleton, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison and Racine. These cities represent areas of economic and racial disparities throughout the state.


Q: What programs and services does IIW offer?

A: IIW provides a variety of lending products and services throughout the state, including U.S. Small Business Administration and microlending, nonprofit facilities and affordable housing lending, as well as consumer auto and home lending. Additionally, IIW partners provide ongoing educational programming, mentorship and legal counseling. Together, IIW works to meet the needs of low-income residents and people of color throughout the state.


Q: Who can apply?

A: Throughout the state of Wisconsin, IIW partners service entrepreneurs, business owners and nonprofits, with additional consumer lending offerings in the Fox Valley area. All are welcome to apply.


Q: How does IIW benefit the overall business climate of the state?

A: Together, IIW partners share best practices in CDFI lending, providing one another with referrals and support. The results of our collaboration mean that Wisconsin communities—both urban and rural—benefit from our combined expertise and resources. To learn more about our impacts on Wisconsin borrowers, please see our recent report highlighting client success stories.


Q: Why is Wisconsin an ideal location to start a business?

A: Across the state, Wisconsin’s 22 CDFIs are helping entrepreneurs and business owners to thrive. Data from the CDFI Fund demonstrates that between fiscal years 2005 and 2015, Wisconsin CDFIs provided nearly $2 billion in loans to Wisconsin communities, creating approximately 80,000 jobs and financing nearly 8,000 small businesses. CDFIs play a critical role in the state economy by providing access to capital for low and moderate-income households that face barriers to financing through traditional financial institutions.


Q: What does IIW look to achieve?

A: The goals of IIW are to:

  1. address the challenges facing rural Wisconsin for-profit businesses, nonprofits and residents lacking adequate access to capital;
  2. grow the capacity of the individual member CDFIs; and
  3. expand the resources of the collaborative to work together more efficiently and effectively toward achieving greater community impact.

In addition, IIW has spearheaded efforts in Wisconsin to promote state-level advocacy among CDFIs and has hosted annual advocacy days at the Wisconsin State Capitol to engage policymakers around the important work of our industry. 


Q: What is the best way to learn more about IIW?

A: To learn more about IIW, please visit our website. You can also learn more about the organizations that comprise the collaborative by visiting their websites: Community Assets for People, First American Capital Corporation, Forward Community Investments and the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation.