To help Black-owned businesses identify the best funding sources available, we asked CEOs and business leaders this question for their best insights. From the iFundWomen of Color Program to Reign Ventures, there are several options available particularly for Black business owners to secure funding for their businesses.
The iFundWomen of Color Program
iFundWomen is your typical crowdfunding platform with a twist, offering their “iFundWomen of Color” program to give exclusive grant access to business owners and entrepreneurs that are women of color. Beyond grants, debt-free crowdfunded capital, fundraising coaching, and networking opportunities are all made available to help support WOC in their business ventures.
Ruben Gamez, SignWell
Harlem Capital Partners
Harlem Capital Partners is a venture group that started with a mission in 2019. They allocated a $40 million capital fund to help minority- and women-owned businesses. This diversity-focused capital fund aims to build a network of 1,000 companies and help them succeed. Recently, they established the Harlem Capital Partners Venture Fund II, which closed at $134 million. Fund II will be more focused on companies that seek early seed investments. The fund will put more emphasis on consumer technology and enterprise. HCP targets more than 10% ownership and will actively participate in funding rounds.
Debbie Meeuws, Nature's Arc Organic
See if You Qualify for California’s Reparations
There’s a new stream of pre-seed/Seed capital for Black Americans. Black Americans, descendants of chattel slavery, living in California are now eligible for cash payments under reparations. Black Americans who could not raise pre-seed or seed capital from biased venture capitalists or angel investors no longer have to beg for meager pennies on the dollar. Venture funding to Black-founded startups in the U.S. was $324 million in the second quarter of this year—a steep drop from prior quarters according to Crunchbase.
Brooke Sinclair, Velourit
Community Development Financial Institutions Fund
Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFIs) are an alternative to traditional bank financing. They serve distressed communities in urban and/or rural areas throughout the country. They are funded by grants, traditional banks, the federal government, and/or private resources. Typically, CDFIs have more flexible borrowing criteria and higher interest rates than traditional banks. They are a great resource for start-ups and mature businesses.
Pat Marshall, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses
The Scale-Up Pitch Challenge
Launched by the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) in 2017, the Scale-Up Pitch Challenge is an excellent funding opportunity that black-owned entrepreneurs can explore. Every year, participants are given a specific theme to focus on, where they can showcase unique business concepts and establish scalable startups. The winning team will be rewarded a grand prize of $50,000, enough to make their visions come into reality. In fact, previous winners had already experienced massive success with investors because of the funding and exposure they gained from the challenge.
Adam Garcia, The Stock Dork
Crowdfunding from Kiva.org
Kiva is a crowdfunding platform with a mission of providing better financial access to underserved groups and communities. Business owners can apply for loans of up to $15,000 at 0% interest, and the process involves filling out an online form and going through a review of your business and ability to pay.
Kiva reviews various criteria to determine the amount you are qualified to borrow. These include the nature of your business and its financial background. However, instead of your credit rating, Kiva uses a social verification system to establish your creditworthiness. Those who pass this stage can then tap Kiva’s full network of public fundraisers. From there, interested lenders can contribute to the loan fund directly from the platform. The money they choose to invest goes completely to the borrower, which they can then repay over a given schedule.
Milo Cruz, Freelance Writing Jobs
The Coalition to Back Black Businesses
The Coalition to Back Black Businesses is a partnership of several brands that have united to empower Black-owned businesses. The Coalition will supply $14 million in minority grants, resources, and training through 2023 and is meant to help small businesses recover from setbacks related to the pandemic. The Coalition includes ADP, American Express, AIG Foundation, Altice USA, the S&P Global Foundation, and Dow.
Each fall, businesses apply for grants of $5000, which include mentorship and training benefits. In the summer, a few initial grant recipients receive an additional $25,000 enhancement grant for additional funding and support. Eligible businesses must be Black owned and located in economically distressed communities. Even if a business isn't chosen, it's worth applying; each fall, the grant committee selects 400 eligible applications at random to receive cash awards and other benefits.
Georgi Todorov, ThriveMyWay
Mansa Fund is an organization that makes micro-investments in Black and Latino-owned small businesses. To apply, owners must fill out a brief online application that asks them to describe their current needs, and the purpose of their business. The application is then reviewed, and funds are typically disbursed via PayPal within 24 hours if approved.
Dan Gray, Kotn Supply
SBA 7a Small Loans
A shocking statistic is that 95% of black-owned businesses have no employees outside of the business owner, which was something we also saw at iBusiness Funding during the various rounds of PPP. Our solution to this problem is a SBA 7a small loan. The SBA 7a program provides great flexibility to business owners, especially when the loan is for $350,000 or less. These SBA 7a small loans offer competitive rates, minimal fees, longer terms to improve cash flow and can be used for a variety of business needs.
The most common use for SBA 7a small loans at our institution is working capital requests. Working capital loans are perfect for black-owned businesses because they can provide the liquidity needed to hire employees, increase advertising and marketing, cover daily business expenses, and much more. It is crucial to get low-cost capital into the hands of black business owners so that cost savings can go directly to the bottom line thus enabling them to re-invest to grow and succeed.
Josh Orloff, iBusiness Funding
Backstage Capital is an investment resource created for entrepreneurs who struggle to find investors, especially those with limited options like people of color, women, and the LGBTQ+ community. Minority-owned businesses only receive 10% of all venture capital, and this group of like-minded individuals is moving to change that. If you have a highly scalable company and are willing to invest your time, you could be one of the 180+ underserved business owners that have already benefitted from financial and support resources.
Fernando Lopez, Circuit
Growth Grants from the National Association of the Self Employed
The National Association of the Self Employed (NASE) Growth Grants offers much to black and minority businesses. This group is unique because it provides daily support with consolidated buying power that typically is unavailable to small businesses. It also offers access to experts and benefits. They offer $4,0000 business grants to pay for things like part-time help, farm equipment, computers, and other tech.
Bruce Tasios, Tasios Orthodontics
Reign Ventures is an early-stage venture capital company that was founded by a Black woman. The company focuses on investment opportunities at the Seed and Series A level of the investment ladder. They are committed to building a portfolio that has at least 50% of its founders to be people of color or women since they support investing in businesses that are owned by women and people of color. It specializes in monetary matters, financial services, and venture capital, among other related fields. It was founded in 2017 and is based in New York for US operations.
Scott O'Brien, PPC Ad Lab
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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.