published on September 21, 2016 - 2:20 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

A Valley bank is teaming up with a Bay Area-based internet company to offer crowdfunding to area business borrowers.

Fresno First Bank and Breakaway Funding LLC, a securities-based crowdfunding portal headquartered in Sausalito, today jointly announced an agreement to bring the hybrid crowdfunding process for business lending to the San Joaquin Central Valley.

Fresno First Bank will make a $10 million loan portfolio commitment available to customers who are working with Breakaway Funding to reach their capitalization or financing needs.  Breakaway Funding will work with potential customers to provide screening, counsel and an online portal, while delivering loan-ready businesses to Fresno First Bank.

In a joint statement, Steve Miller, CEO and president of Fresno First Bank and Kim Kaselionis, founder/managing partner of Breakaway said, “We are excited about this working relationship. It breaks new ground in how local businesses and entrepreneurs can take advantage of both equity crowdfunding and work with established financial institutions to meet their ultimate funding needs.”

“Fresno First’s reputation and forward-thinking leadership combined with Breakaway’s crowdfunding successes will demonstrate how Breakaway’s proprietary process, the Community Capital Marketplace (CCM), provides the capital necessary to businesses, who have previously found funding unavailable or unworkable,” the joint statement said.

Fresno First Bank, founded in 2005, has more than $300 million in total assets. 

The new crowdfunding program targets businesses from start-ups to those up to $25 million in annual revenue. 

“Companies in this portion of the market,” said Miller, “often have difficulties in securing the financing they need to start or to expand their operations. By working through the hybrid crowdfunding process they will have an opportunity to raise the required equity, to strengthen their financial profile and to qualify for more traditional bank funding.”

This year, Fresno First Bank was named by Forbes as one of the Best 25 Small Businesses in America and received the All-Star Performance Award from the Great Game of Business in 2015.

Kaselionis, previously the CEO/chairman of a successful community bank, said:  “As a former banker, I understand the importance of driving growth in a local economy by partnering with businesses who are seeking to grow.  Fresno First Bank recognizes that providing an industry-leading funding process will be extremely beneficial to the Central Valley. That Steve, the board of directors and his management team are willing to take a leadership role in the hybrid funding process is testament to the bank’s desire to be a community leader and to adopt industry-leading financing tools.”

Breakaway, founded in 2013, has successfully completed financing transactions with traditional financial institutions throughout Northern California, as well as through the crowdfunding process and CCM. 

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