More than $1.8 Million Raised To Support Entrepreneurs of Color in Baltimore

Posted March 4, 2020, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Entrepreneurs of color in Baltimore

Six local orga­ni­za­tions have received grants total­ing $775,000 in a col­lab­o­ra­tive effort to help entre­pre­neurs of col­or over­come obsta­cles to start­ing and grow­ing busi­ness­es in Bal­ti­more City and the sur­round­ing region. The invest­ments from the Bal­ti­more Small Busi­ness Sup­port Fund are aimed at increas­ing small busi­ness lend­ing to and fos­ter­ing greater busi­ness sup­port for these entre­pre­neurs. This rep­re­sents the first stage of engage­ment between the grantees and the grow­ing fund, which now totals more than $1.8 million.

Ini­tial grants will help build greater capac­i­ty with­in region­al com­mu­ni­ty devel­op­ment finan­cial insti­tu­tions and non­prof­it ser­vice providers.

Five enti­ties were award­ed $150,000 each: Bal­ti­more Com­mu­ni­ty Lend­ing, Bal­ti­more Corps, Impact Hub Bal­ti­more, Lati­no Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment Cen­ter and the Earl G. Graves School of Busi­ness and Man­age­ment at Mor­gan State Uni­ver­si­ty. Inno­va­tion Works will receive a $25,000 fund­ed loan loss guar­an­tee for its soon-to-be-launched social enter­prise invest­ment fund. MECU, one of the region’s largest cred­it unions, will also be a strate­gic part­ner to the Sup­port Fund.

The Sup­port Fund has been seed­ed with fund­ing from the Aaron and Lil­lie Straus Foun­da­tion, Abell Foun­da­tion, the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, Bal­ti­more Com­mu­ni­ty Foun­da­tion, Gold­man Sachs Foun­da­tion, JPMor­gan Chase, Oppor­tu­ni­ty Finance Net­work, PNC Bank and the Surd­na Foun­da­tion. Estab­lished in 2018, the Sup­port Fund aims to address bar­ri­ers in com­mu­ni­ty lend­ing that dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly affect entre­pre­neurs of col­or — and to work along­side relat­ed invest­ment efforts. To this end, these grantees will com­prise an 18-month learn­ing cohort to share ideas, pro­vide data and devel­op best prac­tices to serve greater num­bers of entre­pre­neurs of col­or more effectively.

Racial and eth­nic equi­ty are cen­tral to the Sup­port Fund’s design,” said James Wahls, a port­fo­lio man­ag­er for the Casey Foundation’s social invest­ments team. Bal­ti­more entre­pre­neurs of col­or must have greater access to cap­i­tal. All of the orga­ni­za­tions receiv­ing sup­port have explic­it­ly com­mit­ted to this goal, and five of the six grantees along with MECU are led by peo­ple of color.”

We’re thrilled to part­ner with the Small Busi­ness Sup­port Fund. Few things are more impor­tant to the health of our com­mu­ni­ties than the health of our small busi­ness­es,” said Bal­ti­more Corps pres­i­dent and CEO Fagan Har­ris. How­ev­er, Main Street entre­pre­neurs in Bal­ti­more have long strug­gled to access the cap­i­tal and tech­ni­cal assis­tance they need to thrive. The Small Busi­ness Sup­port Fund cat­alyzes that access and those supports.”

Sup­port Fund col­lab­o­ra­tive mem­bers will con­tin­ue to seek addi­tion­al invest­ments through a donor-advised fund admin­is­tered by Bal­ti­more Com­mu­ni­ty Foun­da­tion with the goal of rais­ing at least $3 million.

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