Quick Reads on How to Start

Business Assistance Summaries

Selected Grant Programs

  • Agricultural Development ProgramsThe Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection operates the Agricultural Development Program. These annual grants fund projects that are likely to stimulate Wisconsin’s farm economy with new production or marketing techniques, alternative crops or enterprises, new value-added products, or new market research.
  • Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance gives a complete listing of federal grant programs for individuals and businesses.
  • International Market Access Grant (IMAG): WEDC provides assistance to expand international exports. Wisconsin companies can be reimbursed for specific expenses associated with developing and/or implementing their new or expanded international export strategies. A company’s application includes an overview of the company, project narrative and case for assistance, and a project budget. Under this grant, a Wisconsin company can receive up to $25,000 if the company has completed the ExporTech program or up to $15,000 if they have not. This program operates under a fiscal year of July 1-June 30. Contact: Monica Wahlberg for more information at 608-210-6734 or
  • Wisconsin Focus on Energy periodically puts out Requests for Proposal on topics related to renewable energy and environmental conservation.

Small Business Loans and Guarantees

  • Wisconsin Economic Development Council (WEDC)
    WEDC operates various programs to assist entrepreneurs, including the Qualified New Business Venture program that offers tax credits to accredited investors and can make your start-up more attractive.
  • Small Business Administration (SBA)
    The SBA does not directly provide grants or loans, but it does guarantee business loans made by banks. These loan guarantees assure that, if the borrower defaults, the government will reimburse the lender for the guaranteed portion of the loan. The SBA loan guarantee programs enable banks to extend financing that might not otherwise be available. The SBA also oversees a 504 Loan Program, administered through Certified Development Companies, that funds the purchase of land, building, and equipment in business expansion. For more information and a list of Wisconsin Certified Development Companies, go to or talk to your bank about using an SBA loan guarantee to reduce the risk of a business loan.
  • Small Business Administration – Startup Guide
  • Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) 
    WWBIC, with offices in Madison, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha, offers pre-loan business assistance and micro-loans to small businesses having difficulty obtaining bank financing. This financing is not limited to women-owned businesses. The maximum loan amount is $100,000. For more information, visit the website or
  • Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority (WHEDA)
    WHEDA operates three programs of particular interest to entrepreneurs. The Agribusiness Loan helps new or existing businesses obtain financing on favorable terms to produce products using Wisconsin’s raw agricultural commodities. The Link Deposit Loan provides an interest rate subsidy on lender financing to women or minorities for business startup or expansion. The Small Business Guarantee helps borrowers obtain financing on favorable terms for rural startup and daycare businesses. For more information, go to the website, email WHEDA at, or call 800-334-6873.
  • Impact Seven 
    Impact Seven, a community development corporation, has assembled a group of revolving loan funds to create the Greater Wisconsin Fund. This fund is designed to assist business startups or expansion in Wisconsin communities. For more information, call 608-251-8450 or go to the Impact Seven website.
  • Wisconsin Community Action Program Association (WISCAP) 
    WISCAP offers Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) which are dedicated savings accounts opened at participating financial institutions by eligible, working, low-income persons. Deposits make into the IDA are matched on a 2:1 basis. Persons may deposit up to $1,000 of their earnings to their IDA within a two-year period and receive a maximum match of $2,000. Starting a small business is an eligible investment.
  • Count-Me-In
    Count-Me-In is a nationwide micro-lender for women-owned businesses seeking their first business loan. Visit the website, which also provides access to financial networks, consultation, and education for women-owned businesses.
  • Business Loans for Minorities: A Guide for Racially and Ethnically Diverse Entrepreneurs

Technology Development Financing

  • Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs, operated by select federal agencies, provide R&D funding for U.S. small businesses. More than $1.5 billion is available annually to fund the development of innovations and technologies of designated national interest. To find out more, visit the website.
  • Angel and Early Stage Seed Investment Tax Credits
    The Qualified New Business Venture (QNBV) program is designed to encourage investment in small, high-technology businesses that have high growth potential. Angel investors, angel investment networks and venture capital seed funds may qualify for Wisconsin tax credits by investing in these designated companies. Early stage businesses conducting pre-commercialization activities related to proprietary technology may be designated as Qualified New Business Ventures. To find out more about how businesses and investors obtain certification, and how the investor tax-credit program works, visit the website. Contact: Chris Schiffner, 608-210-6826,
  • Technology Development Loans and Grants
    WEDC provides low-interest loans to Wisconsin companies to facilitate research and development and commercialization of innovative technology products. WEDC also can provide bridge and matching grants to help Wisconsin companies secure federal R&D awards (e.g., SBIR Phase I and II or FastTrack). Visit the website to learn more. Contact: Chris Schiffner, 608-210-6826,
  • Deferral for Capital Gain Reinvestment in Wisconsin Businesses
    WEDC certifies qualified businesses for eligibility of asset exclusion and long-term Wisconsin capital asset deferral. Contact: Steven Sabatke, 608-210-6741,

Angel and Venture Capital

The Wisconsin Innovation Index is your guide to Wisconsin’s Early Stage Investors. To view a map of these investors, CLICK HERE.

  • Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium
    This annual capital matchmaking event for high-growth companies is held each November. Companies apply to make investor presentations in late summer. For more information, visit or contact Joy Sawatzki or Bram Daelemans at 608-442-7557.
  • Tech Council Investor Networks (TCIN) provides a deal-flow pipeline for entrepreneurs of growth companies seeking investor capital.
  • The Wisconsin Portfolio charts angel and venture capital deals in Wisconsin and offers an overview of the state’s early stage landscape, with profiles on emerging companies, a resource guide for investors and more.
  • Angel Capital Association (ACA) is the North American trade association of angel groups and private investors that invest in high growth, early-stage ventures.
  • Halo Report is a collaborative effort to raise awareness of early stage investment activities by angel investment groups. The research series highlights angel investment activity and trends in North America and provides much-sought-after data that has not been previously available to entrepreneurs or early stage investors.
  • Wisconsin Technology White Papers – The ideas offered in the Tech Council’s biannual white papers are intended to set the table for a renewed public discussion about improving the state’s tech-based economy.
  • National Venture Capital Association – The NVCA sponsors training and matchmaking events for investors and entrepreneurs, and posts information on the venture capital industry.
  • MoneyTree Report – PricewaterhouseCoopers, Thomson Venture Economics, and the National Venture Capital Association publish the quarterly MoneyTree Survey on venture capital investing trends nationwide.
  • The Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire is a multidisciplinary research unit of the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire. The Center’s principal area of expertise is in the study of early stage equity financing for high-growth ventures.

Venture Debt Financing

  • Madison Development Corporation (MDC) Venture Debt Fund
    Provides debt financing to emerging growth companies. The debt is structured with repayment forecast from the company’s ability to reach cash flow breakeven with its existing liquidity or the company’s ability to raise additional equity capital. Complements early stage equity sources of capital and stretches the ability of growth companies to access capital at a predictable cost while giving up minimal ownership or control Contact: David Scholtens,608-256-2799,
  • Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Venture Debt Program
    Funding is available for technology based or fast growth companies. The program invests as debt financing intended to help an early revenue generating company reach a positive cash flow. These funds will complement matching equity funding that must be invested concurrently but this equity can be reserved for company growth. For more information, contact or 414-286-5839.

Rural Business Funding

  • Wisconsin Business Innovation Corporation. The Wisconsin Business Innovation Corporation (WBIC), created in 1996, encourages the development of technology-based companies in rural Wisconsin. WBIC provides access to both debt and equity financing. It is part of the Northwest Regional Planning Commission.
  • Got Moo-la is a comprehensive source, produced by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, of financing sources and other resources for entrepreneurs and businesses in the agribusiness sector.