For nearly 20 years Mercy Corps Northwest has offered grants to help entrepreneurs multiply their savings as part of the Oregon Individual Development Account program.
Our Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) assist Oregonians in saving money to start or grow a small business by enrolling them in a grant program. The program requires grantees to affordably save $84 a month, for a minimum of 13 months and maximum of 2 years, until $1,000 is saved. The $1,000 in savings is then matched with $5,000 in grant money provided by Mercy Corps Northwest for a combined total of $6,000 for their business. Graduating participants will also be pre-approved for a $1,000 credit-building loan.
IDAs empower individuals with the desire to become an entrepreneur – inclusive to all races, ethnicities, gender expressions, age, disability, national origin, citizenship status, or involvement with the criminal justice system – to realize their dreams. The program not only grows the assets of individuals, but also families and the overall economic strength of the broader community. Since inception, the program has provided hundreds of entrepreneurs with over $4 million in grants to support sustainable growth of local businesses.
Meet one of our grant recipients
Start your IDA grant journey
We are proud to offer resources that help you stay informed as you partner with our IDA grant program to achieve your business goals.
Step 1: See if you qualify for the IDA Program
Complete the IDA eligibility quiz online. This will help you determine whether or not you qualify for the program. Once you are sure that you qualify, we recommend that you attend one of our monthly orientations that share more information on the program.
Here's what is needed to determine if you are eligible to apply for an IDA:
- A business operated in and owned by an individual residing within the state of Oregon with five (5) or fewer employees, including owner(s)
- A business with a source of earned income to make a monthly savings deposit of $84
- A household with a net worth of less than $20,000 (Net worth is the value of what you own minus what you have in debts. To calculate net worth for an IDA, you don’t have to include the value or debt of one owned home, one owned car, and the first $60,000 in retirement savings.)
- A household that does not make more than 80% of Area Median Income, listed below:
Multnomah County median income 2021
Family size Income limit
Note: These figures are for Multnomah, Washington, Yamhill, Columbia, and Clackamas counties. To see the income limits for other counties in Oregon, download the following PDF: Income Eligibility Limits 2021.
Step 2: Complete prerequisite training
IDA applicants must complete at least one of the following business classes within the 12 months prior to the application opening date:
- Mercy Corps NW Master Your Credit Seminar
- Mercy Corps NW Business Foundations I
- Mercy Corps NW Rebuilding Your Foundations
- Mercy Corps NW Business Plan Workshop
- Other business classes taken through other organizations can be considered for credit towards the requirements. Proof of class completion in the form of a certificate or letter from an instructor will be required to process your application. If you have taken a business class that comprises at least 12 hours, feel free to run it by us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 3: Apply to the IDA program
The application opens four times a year. Scroll down to see the next opening date.
Step 4: Meet your saving goal and make plan
Once you have been accepted into the program, your next step is to complete the required hours of financial education training and build and submit a business plan. Templates are available to assist you. As you complete your training, you will need to save a minimum of $1,000 over a minimum of 13 months (approximately $84/month).
Step 5: Get grant funding
After all the requirements are met, receive a maximum amount of $6,000 to support your business. This amount is the combined total of your $1,000 in savings matched with a grant of $5,000.