Apply for a Loan

Review these pages to determine if CFNE might be an appropriate source of funds for your organization.



CFNE Products

CFNE offers a range of loan products for cooperatives, nonprofits serving basic human needs, employee owned businesses, and co-housing developments and community land trusts.

Acceptable Uses

  • working capital,
  • inventory purchase,
  • business expansion,
  • plant & equipment,
  • cash flow needs,
  • property acquisition,
  • site development and home improvement/rehab.

Amounts:      $1,000 - $1,000,000

Loan:             Secured Loan, Promissory Note

Term:            Negotiable – generally 5-7 years

Rate:             Negotiable – average is 5-6%

In certain situations we will provide a loan larger than the available collateral of the borrower.

We also have products designed for members of cooperatives, including Member Ownership loans, Member Education loans, and Member Participation loans.

  • Member Ownership loans finance member equity purchases in a cooperative.
  • Member Education loans finance a co-op to enroll members in cooperative-related higher education programs.
  • Member Participation loans enable co-op members to assist in their co-op's development by lending money to CFNE that is restricted for a loan to their co-op or for securing a loan from CFNE. This product originally was designed to meet an identified need from several New England co-ops with out-of-state members who wanted to invest in their co-op but were deterred due to securities regulations. The product is an excellent means of leveraging private funds from co-op members back into their local cooperative economy.


Who is Eligible?

CFNE loans are available only to organizations operated on a cooperative or nonprofit basis. Applicants must also be located within the New England states of Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut and Rhode Island or within the adjacent parts of New York state.

CFNE considers an organization to operate on a "cooperative" basis if it exhibits most of the following characteristics:

  • its purpose is supportive of the common good;
  • its membership is open to persons who will use its services and accept its responsibilities;
  • its membership policies are not applied to discriminate in any arbitrary or prohibited manner;
  • its activities are broadly participatory by its members;
  • its governance is democratic or based on consensus;
  • its monetary return on invested capital is strictly limited;
  • its earnings are either equitably used with within the organization or distributed on the basis of patronage.

To be considered as operating on a "nonprofit" basis an applicant organization must:

  • not be controlled by or for persons who merely provide equity capital,
  • nor may investors be permitted to realize more than a limited monetary return for the use of their money.

Eligible recipients of the assistance provided by CFNE encompass the entire spectrum of cooperatives and nonprofits serving basic human needs. These include: 

  • consumer-owned co-ops (most food co-ops, housing co-ops, energy co-ops, etc)
  • producer-owned co-ops (artist galleries, most farm and fishery co-ops)
  • worker-owned businesses
  • community service organizations
  • day care centers
  • cooperative charter schools
  • community land trusts
  • 501(c)(3) public charities

Communities can organize cooperatives to meet any of their goods and services needs. The function of CFNE is to encourage and assist this type of community economic development, particularly for organizations that are resource poor but otherwise sound and promising.

The financial assistance provided by CFNE is intended primarily to benefit borrowers of greatest need. Priority among eligible organizations is therefore accorded to low-income co-ops and others with special problems of access to needed financial resources. Low-income status is defined by CFNE to include organizations meeting any of the following standards:

  • the applicant serves an economically disadvantaged community and this community is reflected in its membership and patronage;
  • more than half of applicant's members are low income persons; or
  • the applicant has, through unusual and unavoidable circumstances, suffered a significant economic adversity that exceeds the ability of the organization and its members to rectify.

Low-income co-ops and nonprofits are provided a number of benefits and prerogatives by the Fund in addition to being given priority over other applicants for available funds. For example, their application fee might be reduced and they receive the lowest practicable interest rates on their loans. As the resources of the Fund permit, they may also be provided technical assistance services on a low-fee or gratis basis.

Lending Policies

The standards that the Fund uses in evaluating and deciding upon loan requests include the following: 

  • the need for and importance of the services provided by the co-op;
  • the viability of the organization;
  • the commitment and support of its members;
  • the skill and effectiveness of its management;
  • the adequacy of its capitalization program;
  • its current and prospective financial condition;
  • the adequacy of available collateral; and
  • the ability of the co-op to repay the loan.

CFNE’s lending practices are characterized by an unusually high degree of fairness, flexibility and service. Program loans are provided for any reasonable purpose. The interest rates charged to borrowers are below or at market levels and repayment terms are arranged to accommodate the needs of the borrowing organization. The only fees are a $100 loan application fee and a one point closing fee.

All borrowers are required to pledge adequate collateral as security for their loans, but we utilize our deep knowledge of cooperatives to allow for collateral that would be deemed inadequate by conventional lenders.

The terms and conditions of the loan agreement entered into with borrowers are significantly less restrictive and obtrusive than most commercial loan contracts. The agreement is nevertheless a detailed and comprehensive one that is fully protective of the legal rights and financial solvency of CFNE. Reporting requirements include submission of quarterly financial statements on a timely basis. This allows CFNE to closely monitor the financial performance and organizational development of its borrowers. CFNE provides technical assistance services to its borrowers in connection with the loan application process and subsequently as circumstances warrant. The education and experience of CFNE’s staff and Boards allow it to provide a wide range of quality services, particularly in the areas of organizational development, financial management, and training in consensus process.

The A-B-C-D's of a CFNE Loan

Steps to apply for a CFNE loan:

  • Applicants can download application forms and our loan applicant's pamphlet.
  • Before you apply, contact CFNE. Call us at 800-818-7833 or email to get help with:
    • financial statements 
    • cash flow projections
    • business plans
  • CFNE's Loan Committee reviews the application.
  • Decisions are made within 3-4 weeks.