Country Roads Angel Network (CRAN), West Virginia’s first accredited angel investment network, today announced it has been awarded a two-year grant totaling $150,000 from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation that will support CRAN’s efforts to assist West Virginia entrepreneurs who can benefit from mentoring and early-stage investments to develop their businesses.

“The Benedum Foundation has a long-standing support for entrepreneurship and small businesses. Great organizations like Country Roads Angel Network play an important role in making sure that start-up entrepreneurs have access to the capital they need to be successful,” said Bill Woodrum, senior program officer, with the Benedum Foundation.

CRAN Chair Kevin Combs thanked Benedum for its “vote of confidence” in CRAN and the groundbreaking work it’s been doing over the past four years in West Virginia.

“The Benedum grant will allow CRAN to significantly escalate more opportunities for new startups in West Virginia and grow our investor membership base. We believe the economic picture for West Virginia is brighter than ever as we see more and more dedicated entrepreneurs come to us with a vision for making a difference and impacting many sectors including healthcare, energy, sustainability, technology, communications, the arts and food,” said Combs.

From its beginning in 2019, CRAN has been awarded grants from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, the One Foundation and the Massey Family Foundation. At the outset, CRAN’s operating partner was the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority. In July, CRAN became a standalone organization.

The Foundation for the Tri-State Community (FTSC), a community foundation serving southwest West Virginia, is the fiscal sponsor for the Benedum grant. Mary Wiseman, CEO, stated that “FTSC is excited to serve as CRAN’s sponsor for the charitable aspects of CRAN’s project and looks forward to supporting them in achieving their goals.

According to the terms in the Benedum grant, the intended outcomes of its support will be to:

  • Increase the number of investors in the fund. Currently, CRAN has 32 accredited investors.
  • Generate $2 million in investments for start-up businesses in West Virginia. To date, direct investments by CRAN are more than $1.1 million with more than $8 million raised in additional capital.
  • Improve engagement with entrepreneurs to make successful pitches to CRAN investors.