It depends on who one asks, but the news could be getting better for small green business owners and entrepreneurs. Green banks – or those that aim expressly to aid environmentally conscious businesses and consumers – are popping up around the country despite the current recession.
Recent examples of new green banks include e3bank in Philadelphia, GreenChoice Bank in Chicago, New Resource Bank in San Francisco, and First Green Bank in Eustis, Florida. They join the ranks of green banks that have been around for several years already like Shorebank Pacific. Congress is even debating starting a federal “clean energy” bank.
Green banks offer nifty things like envelope-free ATMs and remote deposit capture so that business customers can deposit checks without visiting the bank. Some green banks emphasize home-efficiency projects, like outfitting homes with water-saving dual-flush toilets while others offer zero-interest loans to workers who buy cars that get more than 30 miles to a gallon. E3bank envisions becoming a leading green bank to support green building by having loan officers be accredited by the USGBC and empowering them to customize loans and lines of credit to commercial and residential borrowers planning green building projects and retrofits.
While some debate whether green banks are a good idea or not, the fact remains the same for small business owners or budding eco-entrepreneurs. If you have a brilliant green idea paired with a solid business plan, there are sources of funding out there. Banks are finally starting to see the green in green, the profit possible from funding companies that have a purpose, other than simple generating profit (although profit is definitely a good thing!). If you happen to be sitting on a great idea, now seems like the time to carpe green bank.