COVID-19 Emergency Loan- Odaiko Sonora Rhythm Industry

“Being a small nonprofit dedicated to performing arts and arts-integrated education is a risky venture. In four days, Odaiko Sonora lost every gig left this season. The timing couldn’t have been worse. All the programs I applied for were overwhelmed and unresponsive . . . until I found CIC. The care and professionalism, and most importantly the speed with which CIC staff were able to assist has restored my faith that Odiako Sonora will weather this storm.” Karen Falkenstrohm, Director Odaiko Sonoran Rhythm Industry ​

Continue reading

COVID-19 Emergency Loan – Dish for Dosha

“This is the second time CIC believed in ME enough to come through for me, when things look dire and survival is the name of the game.
Thank you for your borrowed tools.
I will recreate my masterpiece with it . . . Promise!” Chef Cecilia Arosemena, Owner Dish for Dosha​

Continue reading

Business Reimagined in the time of COVID-19

Resources for Business Owners:

Here at CIC we have heard directly from numerous small business owners in the past few weeks and understand that the challenges created by COVID-19 are overwhelming. Many have described feeling paralyzed and overwhelmed, which has led to inaction and an inability to pivot or make thoughtful plans or decisions. This is such a normal place to be during this unprecedented time and we want to help, not only by offering resources for capital, but also by offering support to let you know that you are not alone, your feelings are normal and there is a way to start down the path toward action. 

On Wednesday, April 22, Aaron Eden, CIC Chief Innovation Officer, led two interactive sessions with local experts to discuss ways to begin to re-imagine your business during this unprecedented time. Each session offers valuable support and insight. Click on the images below to watch each one-hour session. 

Additionally, we recommend Taylor Pearson’s “A COVID-19 Crisis Management Plan for Startups and Small Businesses” as a highly valuable resource. Having a place to start and receive guidance and support is always better than going it alone. 

FREE WEBINAR REPLAY: Business Reimagined in the Time Of COVID-19
recorded 12-1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Featuring Host and Moderator, Aaron Eden, Chief Innovation Officer, Community Investment Corp., Greg Teesdale, Management Consultant, and Lea Marquez Peterson, Arizona Corporation Commissioner

FREE WEBINAR REPLAY: Business Reimagined in the Time Of COVID-19
recorded 12-1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Featuring Amber Smith, CEO, Tucson Metro Chamber, Aaron Eden, Chief Innovation Officer, Community Investment Corp., Tony Ford, Chief Operating Officer, Magnitude Management

Tucson Helping Tucson (THT) Movement to benefit CIC creating a “Pay it Back to Pay it Forward” Small Business Emergency Fund


April 16, 2020

Danny Knee, Executive Director

Community Investment Corporation



Tucson Helping Tucson (THT) Movement to benefit Community Investment Corporation (CIC) 

Local Movement creating a “Pay it Back to Pay it Forward” Small Business Emergency Fund

[Tucson, Arizona]: A grassroots, local community movement, Tucson Helping Tucson, is teaming up with local nonprofit lender, Community Investment Corporation (CIC), to raise emergency loan and grant funds to support Tucson’s small business and creative communities through the devastating impact of closures related to COVID-19 in Tucson and surrounding areas. THT is a diverse group of local professionals, business owners, musicians, and creatives who immediately saw the financial sacrifices businesses were making in the wake of restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19 and wanted to do something to help.

THT created a fundraiser in the form of a weekly variety show called THT TV that streams live on Facebook every Saturday night from 7-8:30 p.m. Locally inspired, locally driven and locally produced, the show features local musicians, artists, and other creatives as well as local business owners.

The funds raised will go to a revolving loan and grant fund housed at the Community Investment Corporation. CIC is a nonprofit economic development organization dedicated to the prosperity of Pima County and the surrounding area since 1996. Funds raised will provide critical and nimble support to local entities through zero-interest loans and small grants.

“Tucson’s identity and our economic prosperity are tied so closely to our local small businesses,” said Danny Knee, Executive Director of CIC. With published estimates that as many as 50% of all small businesses could close depending on the duration of containment efforts required for public safety, Knee explained that “the goal is to get funds into the hands of businesses as quickly as possible to keep them afloat.”

The idea for THT was originally conceived by Tom Heath of The Heath Team at Nova Home Loans. “Tucson just wouldn’t be Tucson without the local small business and creative communities. They are our local flavor and what makes us special,” Heath said. “Our goal is to provide local creatives paid opportunities to share newly created digital content and to build a significant fund to support small businesses with loans and grants, all while bringing the community together for some homegrown entertainment and connection.”

The loans THT is raising funds for will be zero interest, nonrecourse loans. “They are more pledges, than loans,” remarked Heath. “Our idea is that when businesses are ready and making money again, they would use a small percentage of their revenues to pay our loan back so that we can help another business in need.”

“We call it ‘paying it back to pay it forward,’” said Knee, adding that it is the idea behind many of the community-oriented revolving loan funds his organization manages. All of the funds raised and repaid by businesses will be used to create an ongoing emergency loan fund for future community uses beyond COVID-19.

CIC committed $200,000 of funding for COVID-19 relief loans which THT is now working to match and surpass through its community fundraising efforts.

To date, the partnership has already helped six small businesses including Five Points Market, Dish for Dosha and BK Promotional Solutions, Inc.  Two of the loans were completed through what CIC calls a “community backed loan program partnership” with Kiva US and Tucson Kiva Hub, Growth Partners Arizona. These particular loans were funded by individual community members who were able to loan their own money with a minimum investment of just $25 to the COVID-19 affected businesses.

“The community’s generosity is incredible,” said Carie Davis, CIC’s Director of Alternative Business Funding. “We’re hoping this unique approach of allowing people to either donate to our fund or lend directly to the businesses will create a bigger pool of funding to help.”

When safety permits, THT plans to produce a major three-day virtual event for the community to celebrate all that we are and all that we have overcome. THT partners include, Brink Media, Local First Arizona, Tucson Metro Chamber, Hotel Congress, Roux Events, Keri Silvyn, the Comic Bookmobile and many more.

About CIC: Community Investment Corporation is a nonprofit economic development organization dedicated to the prosperity of Pima County and the surrounding area since 1996. Committed to expanding economic opportunities, CIC pursues three distinct program areas including support and financing for entrepreneurship/small business, homeownership and education. CIC’s goal is to promote economic inclusion for all members of southern Arizona, regardless of socioeconomic status. Specifically, CIC’s work ensures that more people in the community can get the funding they need to start, sustain, and grow their small businesses, can buy homes, and can access the education they want for their children. We fund YOUR dreams!

CIC featured on Tipping Point with Zach Yentzer

Executive Director Danny Knee sharing CIC's work to support small business during the COVID-19 pandemic

On Thursday, April 2, 2020, Danny joined Zach Yentzer on Tipping Point on 1030 am KVOI The Voice to discuss the state of small business during the current economic crisis and what both CIC and the community at large are doing to support. Hear about the critical work of the Community Investment Corp. and our emergency loan products and the Tucson Helping Tucson initiative.  

Tucson Helping Tucson: Activating to Support Small Business from Danny Knee, CIC Executive Director

Less than one month ago no one could have imagined half the stores on 4th Avenue being in danger of being permanently shuttered or the bakeries of South Tucson no longer in place to bake authentic pan dulce and bolillo.  What seems like overnight we are at grave risk of losing  cultural and community investments that are  not only vibrant businesses like Five Points Market, and farmer’s market mainstay Sunflower Superfoods, but also businesses that act as community spaces like American Eat Company and Cartel Coffee Lab.  I for one can’t imagine Tucson without my favorite Sonoran hot dog cart, El Sinaloense, on Alvernon just south of Pima. 

Small businesses are at the heart of Tucson’s economy and of Tucson’s culture. And just like the individuals in our community dealing with the necessary restrictions in our fight to contain COVID-19, our small businesses are as well, and they are being particularly hard hit. Business owners are making great sacrifices to help us all stay safe, and because of their sacrifice many of our businesses are in jeopardy of shutting down, for good. 

99% of all firms in the U.S. are small businesses and over 50% of our nation’s private sector work force are employed by them. The effects of COVID-19 could be devastating as it’s estimated that as many as 50% of small businesses could close due to COVID-19 depending on how long we’re fighting to contain its spread. The average small business has enough cash reserves on hand to last them roughly 27 days. The pandemic we are facing and the restrictions needed to contain it will far surpass that timeframe. Our small businesses need your help now. 

Tucson Helping Tucson (THT) is a coalition of Tucson businesses and individuals who care and who understand the depth and breadth of the road ahead for our small business community. Community Investment Corporation is partnering with THT to raise money to provide critical financial assistance to the businesses hardest hit by this pandemic. Starting the evening of April 4, and every Saturday thereafter, THT will be livestreaming a virtual variety show that provides a much needed paid performance opportunity for local talent, while broadcasting an interactive, fun, and family-friendly program safely to Tucson homes. When safety permits, THT plans to produce a major three-day virtual event for the community to celebrate all that we are and all that we have overcome. In parallel with our programming is a sustained fundraising drive. With money raised we’ll provide grants and create a no-interest revolving loan fund to help keep the local treasures that make up our small business community afloat. This fund will not only support Tucson until we are able to go back to business as usual but will act as an emergency fund to help no matter what our local economy faces in the future. I know that our businesses are resilient and will “pay it back to pay it forward” to others in need, but right now we need everyone to get involved, give what you can and invest in the future of the small business economy. 

We’re asking you to stand with us and to support Tucson’s homegrown business community through the health and financial crisis we’re facing.  

Community Capital Loan Products

Crowdfunding as a Loan Product

That’s right – it’s more than asking your friends and family for donations, and new platforms are making it easier for businesses to tap into community capital as loans.

Here at the Community Investment Corporation, we’ve been exploring alternative funding models to help more entrepreneurs find their way on to the capital ladder. With the need greater than ever, we wanted to expose our community to crowdfunding as an option and clear up some questions our borrowers have about the platform.

Crowdfunding at a Glance

A method of raising capital through the collective effort of friends, family, customers, and individual investors. Instead of a single loan or a small group of investors, crowdfunding is raising small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically through an online platform. (Source:

Types of Crowdfunding

There are many different types of crowdfunding, but for the purpose of this article, we’re going to compare and contrast two different kinds – donation platforms and lending platforms.

Donation-Based Crowdfunding

Donation-based crowdfunding assumes you will not be repaying people who donate to your cause. Common donation-based crowdfunding initiatives include fundraising for disaster relief, charities, nonprofits, and medical bills.

Lending-Based Crowdfunding

Unlike the donation-based crowdfunding, lending-based crowdfunding allows contributors to loan your company money for repayment over time. Each lending-based crowdfunding platform has different repayment terms. Two we want to highlight here are Kiva and WeFunder.


WeFunder – Lenders are repaid over a period of time based on a percentage of the revenue the company generates and usually for a percentage gain. Loan size is $50,000 – $1MM.

WeFunder is helping entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 crisis by providing a platform to raise $20,000 – $1MM on their platform through the crowd. Repayment would not begin until 2021, and it would be dependent upon the revenue the company is generating. As a lender, you would be paid back through distributions of 5% of the company’s revenue over time until the loan is repaid in full at a 3% interest rate. The interest does not compound.

The minimum amount a lender must invest in a WeFunder campaign is $100, so that’s something else to keep in mind when you think about asking your network of friends and family for investment. 


Kiva Tucson – Lenders are repaid over a period of time (from 1-3 years) the exact amount they loaned. Loan size is $1,000 – $10,000.
Kiva is helping during the COVID-19 crisis by providing no fee, no-interest loans up to $15,000 and a 6-month deferment.
The minimum amount someone must lend on Kiva is $25. Kiva Tucson is a program of Growth Partners Arizona in partnership with the Community Investment Corporation.

The Benefits of Crowdfunding

Businesses need working capital. People have money they can loan. 

Consider the message to potential investors when you are considering a crowdfunding campaign. Businesses that will be generating revenue (again, but perhaps need bridge funding at the moment) who are looking to raise working capital should consider lending-based crowdfunding. The ask is easier for your customers, friends and family to loan money than to donate money.

For projects or campaigns that are not ever meant to be businesses or to generate money (art projects, medical expenses, etc.), consider a donation-based crowdfunding campaign.

If you’re interested in a Kiva loan, email Paul Mendoza, Capital Access Manager, Kiva Tucson at or call 520-891-4413. Tucson and all of Southern Arizona is a US Kiva Hub, which means we have resources to help you navigate the process and increase success rates on the platform.

If you’d like to learn more about WeFunder, The Community Investment Corporation is a partner and we can accelerate the process for businesses in Southern Arizona. Reach out to Carie at for more information, or call 520-529-1766.