2021 Year in Review


In 2021, our work was focused on delivering the educational and financial resources that would propel small businesses past the struggles of the pandemic and position them for long-lasting strength and future growth. We supported 10,590 small businesses nationwide, disbursing $41.9million in loan capital to 2,138 individuals. This is twice what we lent during the first year of the pandemic, and magnitudes above our pre-pandemic lending of $15 million.

2021 was the first year with our new name, and a year we embraced a new vision of financial ascension for all. This vision became increasingly important when faced with the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We focused on those among us who have the most to lose from COVID-19, and the most to gain from the recovery. In 2021, 81% of our clients were entrepreneurs of color, 66% were Black or Latinx, 64% were LMI, 63% were immigrants, and 45% were women.



Through the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) we disbursed $26.3 million in loans to 1,690 small businesses nationwide. Our average PPP loan size was just $15,000, because we worked with the smallest businesses and entrepreneurs. 82% percent of our PPP loans went to entrepreneurs of color, and 68% went to Black or Latinx businesses.

Through regional SPV programs, we delivered $13.4 million to 348 small businesses. Through the New York Forward Loan Fund we delivered $6.1 million to 161 small businesses, and through the Southern Opportunity and Resilience program we delivered $3.1 million to 79 small businesses. We grew our footprint in the Pacific Northwest through the Washington Flex Fund and delivered $2.3 million to 33 small businesses.



2021 was a year of innovation and flexibility. We created our own programs thanks to support from the Wells Fargo Foundation’s Open for Business Program and funding from the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation. We focused on the hard-hit restaurant industry and created the Restaurant Futures Loan Fund in partnership with the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation. Through this program, we delivered $775,000 in zero-interest loans to 19 businesses. We also launched our first ever revolving line of credit to provide flexibility on borrowing and repayment schedules. Education remained a critical part of our focus in 2021, with 10,590 individuals receiving nearly 12,000 hours of direct counseling. We also conducted 31 workshops, reaching 962 businesses.



We launched our first ever client video series This Way Up: Stories of Ascension. We highlighted seven Ascendus businesses and told their stories of resilience, perseverance, and community impact. Our clients have been resilient in the face of COVID-19. 94% of our clients remained open through 2021, providing employment for over 3,600 individuals.



Thank you for your support in providing the financial capital and educational resources to lift our clients towards The Power of Up. Thank you for believing in us. This Way Up!


About Ascendus

Ascendus believes in the bold vision of achieving financial ascension for all. Our mission is to empower low-to-moderate income business owners with access to capital and financial education. For over 30 years, we’ve provided small business owners – primarily BIPOC, women and immigrants – with the tools to move up, improve their lives, care for their families, and contribute to their communities. Since our inception, we’ve dispersed over $255 million in capital to  over 25,300 small business owners. For more information, visit https://www.ascendus.org/.

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