The oldest loan fund in Arkansas
FORGE was founded in 1988 by a group of organic farmers from throughout the Ozarks bioregion of Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. They were concerned that farmers wanting to incorporate sustainable agricultural practices into their farming systems were being hindered by a lack of affordable capital. One of their solutions was to form a revolving loan fund that would be sensitive to the needs of small farmers.
As the years went by the members of FORGE realized that agriculture was only one of the needs of rural communities and that the loan program needed to include businesses that provide services and stable employment opportunities to families living in rural areas.
In 1998 FORGE became a SBA Microlender and now offers technical assistance to start up businesses. In 2010 FORGE became a Certified Development Financial Institution (CDFI). While the range of the programs has expanded, the goals of FORGE have remained the same: to link borrowers with investors to create healthy sustainable communities throughout the Ozarks.