Push to Strengthen Black Entrepreneurship in Atlanta Receives $1 Million Boost

Posted May 6, 2019, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

In BeltLine communities, AWBI is using multiple strategies to spur economic activity and opportunities for local African-American businesses.

The Atlanta Wealth Build­ing Ini­tia­tive (AWBI) has received a $1 mil­lion grant from the W.K. Kel­logg Foun­da­tion. This grant — cou­pled with sup­port from Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion and the Kende­da Fund — will advance the initiative’s efforts to bol­ster African-Amer­i­can entre­pre­neur­ship in Atlanta while also clos­ing the city’s racial wealth gap.

AWBI stake­hold­ers — which include rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the pub­lic, pri­vate and phil­an­thropic fields — are focus­ing their work on the rapid­ly gen­tri­fy­ing areas along the Atlanta Belt­Line. The project, once com­plete, will encir­cle the city’s urban core, con­nect­ing 45 neigh­bor­hoods via a 22-mile bik­ing and pedes­tri­an loop.

In Belt­Line com­mu­ni­ties, AWBI is using mul­ti­ple strate­gies to spur eco­nom­ic activ­i­ty and oppor­tu­ni­ties for local African-Amer­i­can busi­ness­es. This work includes:

  • build­ing work­er-owned cooperatives;
  • acquir­ing land to devel­op afford­able, com­mu­ni­ty-con­trolled properties;
  • pro­vid­ing tech­ni­cal assis­tance and train­ing; and
  • offer­ing busi­ness own­ers flex­i­ble financ­ing options, includ­ing loans, guar­an­tees and grants.

AWBI also sup­ports a peer-learn­ing net­work — a group of more than 30 pub­lic and pri­vate orga­ni­za­tions — that it hopes will help iden­ti­fy new ways to lev­el the play­ing field between white entre­pre­neurs and entre­pre­neurs of color.

Cur­rent­ly in Atlanta, this field is far from flat, accord­ing to a report from Pros­per­i­ty Now, a non­prof­it ded­i­cat­ed to build­ing wealth for those in need. Busi­ness­es owned by African-Amer­i­can Atlantans are small­er — in both size and val­ue — than busi­ness­es owned by their white coun­ter­parts. Just 4% of the city’s black-owned busi­ness­es employ more than one per­son. In addi­tion, the aver­age black-owned busi­ness is val­ued at eleven­fold less — and then some — when com­pared to the aver­age white-owned busi­ness, the report found.

The city of Atlanta is pros­per­ing, but not all Atlantans have ben­e­fit­ed or will ben­e­fit,” says Tené Tray­lor, a fund advi­sor for the Kende­da Fund. AWBI is built on the belief that fair and inclu­sive, peo­ple-cen­tered strate­gies can pro­duce out­stand­ing social and finan­cial returns for all.”

Read about how entre­pre­neur­ship can help Black Atlantans cre­ate wealth

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