A regional nonprofit plans to expand its lending opportunities for minorities and low-to-moderate income entrepreneurs in mainly rural Colorado thanks to a recent investment.

Accion, a regional nonprofit organization, announced a $2.75 million investment from the Colorado Health Foundation in a Monday press release.

The funds will go towards helping “improve economic opportunities and health outcomes for populations in Colorado that face barriers to entrepreneurship.”

“Through an increase in its microfinancing and small business loan activities, Accion aims to level the playing field and reduce inequities for individuals for whom the door to capital is often shut,” the release said.

The $2.75 million is furnished by a $1.75 million program-related investment as lending capital in addition to a $1 million program grant.

“We are thrilled with this commitment from the Colorado Health Foundation,” said Anne Haines, the president and CEO of Accion, in the release. “This dynamic partnership will help Colorado’s underserved entrepreneurs improve their financial stability and become catalysts for healthier communities across the state.”

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Accion will offer new loan products, targeted promotion, and enhanced technology to help expand its outreach efforts.

The nonprofit also is launching a Rural Credit Collaborative with banks, nonprofit partners and government organizations “to get more capital into the hands of small business owners.”

“Research has linked a prolonged boost in income to improved health outcomes over time,” the release said. “In addition to its economic impact, the investment seeks to improve quality of life and health for Colorado residents through increased community vitality, enhanced social networks, and job growth.”

The Colorado Health Foundation has become a strong supporter of Accion’s mission over the last year by “introducing the organization to potential investors and funders through a coordinated pitch event and individual meetings.”

According to the release, the nonprofit has been able to develop new investment relationships beyond its traditional funders because of the Foundation’s network.

“This partnership with Accion creates an opportunity to provide greater economic stability, a key driver of the social determinants of health, to more individuals and families in Colorado,” said Ben Bynum, portfolio director of program related investments at the Foundation, in the release. “The program-related investment and grant funding to the organization will support our efforts to address inequities and bring health in reach for all Coloradans.”

Last year, Accion provided more than $6.6 million in loans to roughly 500 businesses in Colorado.

“Accion’s work is creating tangible economic impact across the state, with an estimated 1,267 jobs created or sustained by the organization’s client businesses in 2017,” the release said. “With the investment from the Foundation, Accion plans to lend $15 million in small business loans across the state by 2020.”

Go to us.accion.org for more information about lending opportunities and online loan applications.