Stacy JacksonDecember 20, 2022December 20, 202237 0 Deonna Barnett, founder of Aventi Enterprises (Screenshot: LinkedIn) With Black entrepreneurs attracting less equity capital than their white counterparts, programs that maximize access to capital are highly significant. Five Black-owned and Black-led businesses received below-market loans from The Columbus Foundation as part of a new initiative to close the racial wealth gap in central Ohio.
According to The Columbus Dispatch, the foundation made available $2.6 million in low-interest loans for the five minority-owned businesses: Aventi Enterprises, Embedded Services, The Mezzanine Fund, Prospera Advisory Group, and Our Hospitality Group, which launched Marvin's Lounge. 'Small business owners need access to capital to grow their businesses. Yet, historically, entrepreneurs of color have faced systemic barriers when trying to secure capital, and they continue to face many of the same barriers today,' Douglas F. Kridler, the foundation's president and CEO, said in a news release.
The Black-led businesses are the first to receive the funding from the foundation's new Equitable Small Business Fund in an effort to maximize access to capital and services for entrepreneurs of color. The foundation reported that the loans are a part of the foundation's approach to address inequities in business. To fulfill its mission, the foundation partnered with the national organization Next Street, which has worked with the city of Columbus on a small business lending program.
'The solution that is needed is a holistic solution that involves stakeholders across the spectrum,' said one of Next Street's co-CEOs, Charisse Conanan Johnson. In the first round of loans, businesses selected to receive the funds were evaluated by a committee of Columbus small business leaders, who searched for entrepreneurs with success stories who can use the capital to accelerate their growth.
'The data show the small business ecosystem is extremely challenging for black-led businesses to get lending,' said Steven Moore, the foundation's chief of staff. 'The strategy behind this is not to guess. These are established players who have a track record.'
The foundation launched the fund in May, committing $5 million to program-related investments.