Entrepreneurs of Color Fund launches in Miami to spur small business growth, address systemic racial barriers

MIAMI, May 16, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is bringing its successful Entrepreneurs of Color Fund (EOCF) to Miami-Dade County, aiming to fuel over 300 small businesses for growth through capital and management services.

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A national program, EOCF operates in 10 cities and is specifically designed to break down racial barriers to small business financing. EOCF collaborates with local community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to accelerate the flow of affordable capital to Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs.

The program helps owners grow their revenues, create jobs, and build intergenerational wealth, all while contributing to the economic vibrancy of the communities where they live and work, said Steve Hall, vice president of small business lending at LISC.

In Miami, EOCF is partnering with four local economic development organizations on outreach to businessowners. The first three—Ascendus, the Community Fund of North Miami Dade, and the Miami Bayside Foundation—will participate as small business lenders, while Prospera will provide a range of technical assistance. The partners will coordinate closely to share referrals and resources so they can best support diverse Miami small businesses.

Miami-Dade County has the largest unbanked and underbanked population of large cities in the nation, with more than 20 percent of the county underbanked,” Hall said. “That translates to our small business owners.”

“To make matters worse, there are so few community-based lenders that are able to provide flexible underwriting and support to small business owners, making it even harder for them to access the capital they need,” added Fabiana Estrada, vice president of lending with Ascendus, which focuses on lending to low- and moderate-income small business owners.

EOCF is designed to fill that gap for businesses like Earthy Chic, a local clothing boutique featuring independent designers from around the world. Owner Priscilla Reyes opened the shop 10 years ago to earn a living while still having the flexibility to raise her young children.

With 98 percent of her sales coming from in-store visits, COVID-19 put her livelihood in jeopardy. Reyes did not have ready access to conventional bank financing, so she considered her available options, like merchant cash advances and hard equity loans—which could impose onerous terms and sky-high interest rates. Hall said these forms of financing often seem fast and easy upfront when businesses are in immediate need of capital, but they can end up saddling owners with high levels of debt at rates that they may never be able to repay.

Instead, Reyes found Ascendus, which provided an affordable working capital loan for her to build her online retail presence, making her less reliant on in-person sales.  

“Sometimes business ownership is on a month-to-month basis,” Reyes explained. But with the right kind of financing, she looked beyond her immediate concerns to think about the future. “I wouldn’t be at the point I am today without the loan I received.”

EOCF is expanding into Miami to create more opportunities for owners like Reyes. “In Miami, the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund program provides access to capital, business support, and a partnership network that ensures Miami business owners improve their lives, care for their families, and contribute to the community,” said Paul Quintero, Ascendus CEO.

In addition to Miami, EOCF also operates in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Newark, New Orleans, New York, Oakland, and the greater Washington, D.C. area, working with two dozen CDFIs to advance the aims of Black and Hispanic businessowners. JPMorgan Chase is the primary funder in the national initiative. Locally, the program is supported by Fifth Third Bank, Prudential Financial, Inc., The Rockefeller Foundation, and U.S. Bank.

Visit www.lisc.org/eocf to learn more about EOCF, how to access financing, or how to join our efforts to support entrepreneurs of color in Miami.

EOCF Miami Partners

Ascendus has a bold vision of financial ascension for all. Our mission is to empower low-to-moderate income business owners with access to capital and financial education. Since our inception over 30 years ago, we’ve dispersed $336 million in capital to 47,000 small business owners – primarily BIPOC, women, and immigrants. https://www.ascendus.org/

The Community Fund of North Miami Dade (CFNMD) helps small businesses access capital to grow and be better prepared to face difficult times. CFNMD provides loans from $10,000 to $150,000 to for-profit minority and woman-owned businesses in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties.  

Miami Bayside Foundation (MBF) is a nonprofit organization designed to advance economic development in South Florida through the support of minority businesses and education. Since 2011, MBF has awarded 219 loans totaling $13 million to minority- and women-owned businesses, helping to create more than 500 jobs. MBF is committed to providing access to funds for minority and women entrepreneurs. Loans are available from $5,000 to $150,000. miamibaysidefoundation.org

Prospera is an economic development, nonprofit organization that has specialized since 1991 in providing bilingual assistance to Hispanic entrepreneurs who want to start, sustain, and grow their business. In the last five years alone, Prospera facilitated over $70 million in loans for small business clients, trained 17,300 entrepreneurs, and helped consulting clients create or retain more than 16,000 jobs. Prospera currently serves Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia. For more information, visit prosperausa.org.

LISC is one of the country’s largest community development organizations, helping forge vibrant, resilient communities across America. We work with residents and partners to close systemic gaps in health, wealth and opportunity and advance racial equity so that people and places can thrive. Since our founding in 1979, LISC has invested $29.7 billion to create more than 489,000 affordable homes and apartments, develop 81.4 million square feet of retail, community and educational space and help tens of thousands of people find employment and improve their finances. For more, visit www.lisc.org.

SOURCE Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)

Originally published at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/entrepreneurs-of-color-fund-launches-in-miami-to-spur-small-business-growth-address-systemic-racial-barriers-301826299.html
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