How Does an IDA Work?


The MercyCorps Northwest IDA Program is broken down into four steps:

Our Small Business IDAs pair valuable access to capital with business training to help you operate at the next level, wherever you may be.


IDA applicants must complete one of the following business classes within a year of applying:

1) Mercy Corps NW Master Your Credit Seminar. To register, click here.

2) Mercy Corps NW Business Foundations I: To view upcoming classes, click here.

3) Mercy Corps NW Business Foundations II: To view upcoming classes, click here.

4) Mercy Corps NW Business Plan Workshop: To view upcoming classes, click here.

5) Livelihood NW Business Development Workshop Series: To view upcoming classes, click here.
(Other classes can be considered for credit towards the requirements. If you have taken a class that comprises at least 18 hours, feel free to run it by us).


The Mercy Corps NW IDA match savings program operates on a 5:1 match ratio. This means that every dollar an IDA Program participants saves, will be matched with $5 in grant money. The savings goal for all participants is $1000, matched with $5000 in grant money, for a total of $6000. The length of time you save and participate in the program is determined by both your budget (how much you can afford to save) as well as how much time you need to be ready to launch your business plans. The minimum participation period is 13 months.


IDAs mean more than just money.  It also means training on how to improve your small business and planning your next phase of business growth, whether you are starting or expanding.During your time as a participant you will finish about 4 hours of business education (in addition to the business class taken before applying). If you choose to complete the educational requirement at Mercy Corps NW, it will take the form of:

  • Seminars: $25 each (Free seminar coupons are provided upon completing Foundations Course Survey)
  • 1 one-on-one Business Counseling Session: $25
  • Either: A Business Foundations Workshop (level 1 or 2), a Write your Business Plan workshop, or an approved business workshop from another organization.


IDA Program participants complete a business plan, which is reviewed by IDA staff members and feedback is provided.  Don’t worry – we have templates available for you, and your training will help put some of the pieces together.


This is the fun part – after all requirements are met, we will work together to approve a purchase list of the assets you need to start or expand your business.

What’s Next?

Still curious?  See if you qualify – the IDA has income and net worth requirements to be met, and you must be an Oregon resident and business.

Next: Qualifications for an IDA