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Request for Qualifications open for Community-Based Organizations who help small businesses access financial resources

Seattle Office of Economic Development empowers small businesses through Small Business Capital Readiness Support Program.

At the Seattle Office of Economic Development, we are committed to fostering economic growth and sustainability, especially among small businesses from underserved communities that have historically faced barriers and financial constraints. We believe equitable access to affordable capital is a cornerstone of economic empowerment. That’s why we’re excited to expand/update the Capital Access Program (CAP), a multifaceted initiative aimed at empowering businesses with the financial tools and resources they need to thrive.

Request for Qualification (RFQ):
We are excited to invite your organization to participate in the Small Business Capital Readiness Support Program through the Request for Qualifications process. This partnership aims to empower businesses with financial literacy and facilitate their access to funding opportunities. We aim to partner with community-based organizations that propose innovative approaches to address the challenges faced by small business owners, particularly BIPOC, women, and immigrant business owners, to access affordable financing to grow their business. Through the Request for Qualifications process, we will identify partners and develop tailored strategies. Selected partners will work with OED as a cohort to develop and implement strategies and share learning to address system gaps and barriers.

Key RFQ Requirements Include:

  • Organization background and services overview.
  • Specific experience providing small business assistance in Seattle.
  • Approach to working with underrepresented and underserved businesses and communities.
  • Key personnel and their qualifications.
  • Current and potential capacity.
  • Specific areas of expertise.
  • Language capabilities.
  • Proposed program concept and estimated budget.
  • Plans for sharing information on services provided and outcomes.
  • Relevant experience and contracts from the last three to five years.

The evaluation process will consider:’

  • Skills and experience.
  • Cross-cultural communication and diversity engagement.
  • Community relationships.
  • Personnel track record.
  • Organizational infrastructure.

Seattle Small Business Capital Access Program in Action:
From July 2021–May 2023, OED has successfully distributed $6.9 million through the Small Business Capital Access Program, providing vital support to 295 local businesses. Leveraging $27.5 million in low-interest Flex Fund small business recovery loans, this initiative injected crucial capital into our local economy.

However, while these businesses received essential financial assistance, they encountered significant challenges, including capital readiness, access to financing tools, project planning, and financial tool utilization. To address these issues, we conducted in-depth research, engaging with Community Development Financial Institutions specializing in aiding small businesses. Additionally, a User Experience Research initiative highlighted the limitations of the Capital Access Program and areas for improvement.

CAP represents our unwavering commitment to economic equity and empowerment within our community. By addressing financial disparities and providing vital resources, we aim to create a more inclusive and prosperous Seattle. Join us in this journey to empower small businesses and drive positive change in our city.

If your organization would like to be a partner with OED on Seattle’s Small Business Capital Readinessa Assistance, please submit the application by 5p.m. PT on October 31, 2023.


RFQ ReleasedFriday, October 6, 2023
Information Session and Office HoursInfo Session: 11 am on October 13 and 1 pm on 20
Office Hours: 9-11 am on October 13, 9-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. on 23, and 12-2 p.m. on October 26
Please register via this link
Submissions Due5 p.m. PT on October 31, 2023
Applicant InterviewsThursday, November 9, – Friday, November 17, 2023
Finalists Selected/Awardees NotifiedWeek of November 27
ContractingDecember – mid January
Projected Program LaunchJanuary 2024

View the full Request for Qualification here.

For more information, contact Agraj Dangal, capital access & finance advisor at