A fund designed to support entrepreneurs of color in Baltimore that has raised capital from prominent philanthropic foundations announced an initial group of six local organizations that received grants totaling $775,000.
The Baltimore Small Business Support Fund, which has raised more than $1.8 million, was launched to increase small business lending and help entrepreneurs of color as they start and grow businesses.
Grants of $150,000, which will be used for capacity building including staffing, technology upgrades or other operational improvements, were awarded to these five organizations:
- Baltimore Community Lending, the Hollins Market-based nonprofit community loan fund
- Baltimore Corps, the Mondawmin-based organization that enlists talent to foster social innovation and racial equity
- Impact Hub Baltimore, the Station North-based community of social entrepreneurs, activists and creatives working to improve the city
- The Latino Economic Development Center, the Canton-based organization working on advancement for low- to moderate-income Latinos
- Morgan State University’s Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management, the business school at the Northeast Baltimore HBCU
Innovation Works, the Station North-based organization bringing Silicon Valley resources to neighborhood-level entrepreneurs, will receive a $25,000 funded loan loss guarantee for a soon-to-be-launched social enterprise investment fund.
Along with receiving funding, the organizations will form a learning cohort to share lessons and develop best practices over 18 months.
With a focus on the small businesses that can power a local economy and the need to create access to lending that’s been a particular area of concern, the fund set out to support community development financial institutions and nonprofits. The fund was established with a specific focus on addressing barriers in lending that affect entrepreneurs of color.
“Racial and ethnic equity are central to the Support Fund’s design,” James Wahls, a portfolio manager for the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s social investments team, said in a statement. “Baltimore entrepreneurs of color must have greater access to capital. All of the organizations receiving support have explicitly committed to this goal.”
The fund was seeded with contributions 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. MECU, the regional credit union, was also named a partner on the fund.
It’s the latest recent example we’ve seen to support Baltimore entrepreneurs. So far in 2020, we’ve also seen T. Rowe Price Foundation and CASH Campaign of Maryland lead the opening of Bmore CoLab in downtown Baltimore, while impact investors including Arctarcis, Abell and the Neighborhood Impact Investment Fund launched a new fund to provide growth capital to small businesses.
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