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Resource Roundup: $100M for entrepreneurs of color, and Zoom app development

Plus, grants especially for Southwest Philly businesses.

60th Street businesses closed amid COVID-19 restrictions. (Photo courtesy of Jabari Jones)

This is Resource Roundup, a look at open applications for business and career-building programs, funding and other opportunities around the region. Want to share a new resource for entrepreneurs and technologists? Email us at philly@technical.ly.

Entrepreneurs of color face particular challenges in growing their businesses, including lack of access to capital and networks. The pandemic has only exacerbated those issues. To help those founders thrive, 20 local banks are collaborating for a $100 million fund to assist them in attaining loans and grants.

Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia’s Recharge and Recovery PHL initiative has laid the groundwork for the effort, called the Greater Philadelphia Financial Services Leadership Coalition, as the Philadelphia Business Journal first reported. Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are working with the banks to help entrepreneurs of color in three ways: capital for business owners through either debt or equity with longer term credits; volunteer-driven advisory services and technical support; and capital directly to CDFIs to produce programming.

In total, the $100 million fund will be a combination of debt and equity. Approximately 80% of that amount will be debt to be used by CDFIs to build up businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color. The program is expected to launch by fall.

The Recharge and Recovery PHL initiative is also behind the Philadelphia Skills Forward Initiative, an effort to help workers displaced by the pandemic attain new skills and build toward sustainable careers. That December-launched initiative has a goal of using three tracks — entrepreneurship, health tech and administration, and IT — to train more than 5,000 individuals over 18 months. It’s produced in partnership with AccenturePhiladelphia Works and Graduate! Philadelphia.

Funding for Southwest Philadelphia’s small businesses

Earlier this month, lender M&T Bank announced its plans to contribute $250,000 to a grants program designed for small businesses in Southwest Philadelphia. The grant will help businesses adapt COVID-19 safety protocols or improvements needed to meet the standards of the Storefront Improvement Program, or cover operating expenses and hire employees.

Grants between $5,000 and $15,000 will be given to businesses in the 19142, 19143 and 19153 Southwest Philadelphia ZIP codes that have operated since Jan. 1, 2019 and make $500,000 annually or less.

Entrepreneur Works, a local CDFI, will distribute the grants, and nonprofit The Southwest Strong Community Association will help identify and select grant recipients.

The deadline to apply for the grants is April 30. Applicants can submit their application online or in person at the Southwest Philadelphia M&T branch at 6301 Woodland Ave., African Cultural Alliance of North America’s offices at 5530 Chester Ave. or Southwest Community Development Corp. at 6328 Paschall Ave.

M&T Bank was also an early leader in processing 2021 Paycheck Protection Program loans, the federal loans meant to help small businesses deal with losses created by the COVID-19 pandemic. This round of the PPP is open until May 31; here’s what to keep in mind when applying.

Zoom Apps Fund

Zoom, the videoconferencing company whose name you’ve heard roughly 100 million times during the pandemic, is launching a $100 million Zoom Apps Fund to support the development of platform-adjacent applications. The venture fund will invest between $250,000 and $2.5 million in portfolio companies that “build solutions that will become core to how Zoom customers meet, communicate, and collaborate.” That includes apps, integrations, platform and hardware, the company said.

In a Monday morning blog post about the announcement, Zoom Head of Corporate Development Colin Born wrote this about the fund:

“For us, an investment goes beyond capital. We’re committed to helping our partners succeed. We’re looking forward to rewarding innovation that benefits Zoom users and working with global partners to build our platform in new and exciting ways. But our partnership doors will always be open to any interested, interesting, innovative new Zoom partners, regardless of investment status.”

Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: M&T Bank / Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia / Zoom

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