Through a partnership with University of Washington’s Foster School of Business and Northwest Business and Community Development Center, Lakewood-based Harborstone Credit Union has funded the first two loans (both in Seattle) under the state’s Microenterprise Loan Fund.

The Center’s focus on small-business owners in underserved communities aligns with Harborstone’s goal to be a catalyst for local neighborhoods and businesses, explained Michael Verchot, director of the Consulting and Business Development Center at UW Seattle. 

Faculty members identify potential loan applicants from among those currently connected with the school and its consulting services. Harborstone provides its lending guidelines, ensuring that borrowers fit four criteria: having an existing track record; demonstrated financial results; credit worthy and do not qualify for traditional loans.

The first two loans were awarded to Makini Howell, owner of Plum Restaurants on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, and Danyale Thomas of Good Hair Salon. 

The fund’s loans vary from $5,000 to $50,000 and charge a low 2 percent annual interest rate. Harborstone Credit Union is a member-owned, full-service credit union with 18 branch locations in Pierce, King and Thurston counties, serving more than 73,000 members, including local small businesses.