Business and Philanthropic Leaders Announce New Philanthropic Capital to Spur Minority Business Growth, Tackle Racial Wealth Gap in Newark
New program launching to drive inclusive growth for business owners of color
February 17, 2022 – NEWARK, NJ – Today, the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund (EOCF) is launching in Newark to support diverse-led small businesses and accelerate their opportunities for growth. The EOCF is a national program launched in 2015 to bridge gaps that have historically constrained growth for diverse-led businesses. Through a collective commitment of $1.7 million, JPMorgan Chase, The Rockefeller Foundation and Prudential Financial are expanding the EOCF’s footprint to Newark and partnering with Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation (GNEC) and LISC Greater Newark to help local entrepreneurs of color increase their access to capital, coaching and technical assistance.
These funders are working together to support the expansion of the EOCF in Newark where 71 percent of small businesses are owned by entrepreneurs of color. Despite this representation, systemic barriers to accessing capital remains a challenge in Newark and nationwide for minority business owners. According to a Federal Reserve System 2021 report, 24 percent of Black-owned businesses receive financing compared to 48 percent for White-owned business.
The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the situation where a City of Newark business survey found that Newark small businesses experienced $60 million to $100 million in lost consumer spending since the pandemic began. The expansion of the EOCF to Newark will generate $1.7 million in loans to 50 small businesses and create 500 hours of technical assistance programming, strengthening the city’s ongoing network of support for local entrepreneurs.
“Newark holds tremendous opportunity for businesses, particularly small and medium size ones, and it is imperative that we provide diverse business owners with access to the tools and resources that will help them grow,” said John Bonhomme, managing director and regional director for JPMorgan Chase’s Consumer Bank in New Jersey. “The Entrepreneurs of Color Fund has unlocked capital and created hundreds of jobs around the country, and we’re excited that Newark small businesses will have the same chance to succeed.”
Through the EOCF Newark, GNEC and LISC Greater Newark will provide loans to small and mid-size businesses that can be used to hire staff, buy equipment or vehicles, pay for renovations, or stock up on inventory. Beyond the capital, GNEC and LISC Greater Newark will provide technical assistance and advice on a range of topics including marketing, merchandising, accounting, website design and maintenance, or licensing.
“Prudential is proud to welcome the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund to Newark,” said Sarah Keh, vice president, Inclusive Solutions, Prudential. “Entrepreneurs of color in our headquarters city have told us they need quality loans and a network of support to grow, offer quality employment, and generate financial security for their employees and their communities. The EOCF Newark answers that call at a critical time.”
The EOCF Newark is supporting local small business owners like Florence Dennis, founder of Flows Tasty Treats, with flexible, accommodating loans to grow her already thriving business. The company aims to bring visibility to African cuisine through snacking. The entrepreneur began selling her flagship product “Toasted Corn and Peanut Mix” in a few grocery stores, and now Ms. Dennis is recognized as a fast-growing small business leader in New Jersey.
"In our 17 years of service, we have always believed that entrepreneurs who leverage the limited resources available to them are the ones who ultimately succeed," states Victor Salama, GNEC executive director. "GNEC is not only providing financial support but an opportunity that builds generational wealth."
“The Rockefeller Foundation understands that opportunity in the United States is not equally distributed, especially when it comes to communities of color,” said Gregory Johnson, managing director for the Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative at The Rockefeller Foundation. “Our commitment to EOCF is a reflection of our deep belief that to make strides in closing the racial wealth gap, we must break down barriers to capital and credit access to Black and Latinx small businesses.”
Originally launched in Detroit in 2015, the EOCF operates through a network of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) and funders to provide underserved entrepreneurs with capital and technical support. To date, the EOCF has provided more than 1,200 loans and deployed more than $43 million in capital to Black, Latino and other underserved entrepreneurs in Detroit, the Bay Area, New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C, and Los Angeles.
“We’ve seen the value of these small business investments throughout the country and the way that they help bridge capital gaps facing thousands of diverse entrepreneurs,” said Jorge Cruz, executive director of LISC Greater Newark, the local arm of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), which manages the national EOCF program. “The EOCF approach helps strengthen our local infrastructure of small businesses, expand employment, grow local incomes and build intergenerational wealth. It breaks down racial barriers to opportunity in ways that make our city and our economy work better for everyone.”
Newark businesses interested in learning more about EOCF financing and services should visit https://www.gnecorp.org/entrepreneurs-of-color-fund-newark.html.