ICFA is a non‐profit organization that began in October 1989 by a group of educators at Norfolk State University. The organization was originally the International Center for Creative Thinking and Learning. Its original mission was to educate African‐Americans (youth and adults) on entrepreneurial skills. In 1996, the name was changed to the International Center for Assistance, Inc. (ICFA) when the organization applied to become a Minority Business Development Center (MBDC). ICFA also broadened its mission to include not only training, but technical assistance, counseling and access to capital for minorities, women and underserved entrepreneurs. However, ICFA did not receive the grant to become an MBDC and the organization was deactivated until 1999. It was at this time that Ms. Susan Carlson reactivated the organization and began the process of building access to capital, training, counseling and technical assistance services.
In 2003, the Small Business Administration (SBA) Richmond District Office contacted ICFA to invite our organization to become a Certified Technical Assistance Provider (TA) for the SBA’s Community Express Loan Program. ICFA was the first Certified TA in Virginia and worked diligently with SBA to educate Virginia communities on the Community Express Loan Program. ICFA expanded its territory to include Community Express Loans to the following states: NY, NJ, DE, MD, DC, VA, NC, SC, FL, WV, OH and GA. As a result of these efforts, ICFA has received numerous awards from various SBA District Offices taking Innovative Bank to TOP LENDER positions in several states. ICFA also was given the SBA Richmond District Office, District Director Award in May 2005.
Between 2004 – 2008, ICFA has funded over 720 Loans which total over $9M to minority owned, women owned and veteran owned businesses. These loans also include loans to individuals in low‐moderate income areas (HUB ZONES, Enterprise Zones, Empowerment Zones, etc).