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SF Small Business Week. Celebrate Small Business.

San Francisco Entrepreneurs of Color Fund: Be Willing to Take the Risk

#SFSBW2019 asked some of our resources to share insights, best practices, and examples of how they help small business owners flourish. Today we hear from Laura Hoover, Chief Development Officer of Working Solutions.

San Francisco Entrepreneurs of Color Fund san francisco small business week

What is San Francisco Entrepreneurs of Color Fund’s Mission?

Working Solutions, ICA Fund Good Jobs, and Pacific Community Ventures – three Bay Area nonprofits – have partnered with JPMorgan Chase to launch the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund, an initiative that aims to make capital and business consulting more accessible to people of color who are starting or growing businesses in San Francisco.

What are your organization’s recent accomplishments that demonstrate how you have helped the small business community?

With support from JPMorgan Chase, the three collaborative partners offer a continuum of capital and consulting to support entrepreneurs of color at every stage of business – from start-up to scale-up. To date, over $1,000,000 has been deployed through the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund to San Francisco businesses.

What tools and resources have San Francisco Entrepreneurs of Color Fund created to help small businesses tap into new opportunities to reach new customers, increase their revenue, and grow their business?

Every day, 8,000 small business loan requests are declined by banks across the nation. Here in California, people of color are three times more likely to start a small business, and they are three times as likely to be turned down for loans by a bank.

Through the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund, loans for new businesses start at $5,000, and we can make up to $200,000 loans to established and growing businesses. We also offer tailored investments above $200,000 for businesses ready to scale.

Small businesses combat rising income inequality by creating local jobs with living wages; and yet, small businesses struggle to access the capital and support they need to grow. The Entrepreneurs of Color Fund closes that gap with a range of capital and business consulting services designed to support the growth, profitability, and sustainability of companies owned by people of color in San Francisco.

What is your organization doing to attract and support new and younger small business owners? What resources do you offer to entrepreneurs and small businesses to get started?

The Entrepreneurs of Color Fund provides microloans in the range of $5,000-$50,000 for start-ups and early-stage businesses to help entrepreneurs prove their ideas and grow their operations. Loans are paired with free, one-on-one business consulting which is especially critical for new entrepreneurs that are learning financial management tools and concepts and how to apply them to business.

San Francisco is known for its diverse culture. How does San Francisco Entrepreneurs of Color Fund ensure that the small businesses that make this city unique are able to stay in San Francisco?

Entrepreneurs need more than a check to be successful over the long haul, and this is especially true in San Francisco, where rising commercial rents make it difficult for entrepreneurs to open and maintain brick and mortar locations that contribute to a vibrant and eclectic business landscape. The San Francisco Entrepreneurs of Color Fund pairs the right capital with the right business advice – whether through guidance with lease options, one-on-one business mentoring, or a tailored business accelerator – to support the growth and long-term sustainability of every business in our portfolio.

What words of advice or wisdom would you like to share with small business owners?

Patty Rodriguez, Owner of SF Parking, runs the successful Employee Parking Lot at SFO and believes in giving people second chances. She founded SF Parking in 2011 and has employed more than 200 people in full-time and part-time work, including formerly incarcerated individuals, to help them get back on their feet. Speaking about to how a loan through the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund helped to boost her business, Patty said, “Be willing to take the risk. There are resources out there. Don’t be afraid to ask and learn.”

Please share with us some real-life examples of how you’ve supported small businesses.

The Clothing Coach: Magdy Kotb is a third-generation clothier who makes fine men’s clothing – primarily suits, sports coats, and dress shirts – and is a style consultant who helps clients develop their look in order to attain personal or professional goals. Fine clothing, one might say, is in his blood. His maternal grandfather, who owned a premium cotton farm in Egypt, was a master tailor, and his parents entered the off-the-rack clothing business after emigrating from Egypt to the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1990s. Magdy received a loan from Working Solutions through the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund, which allowed him to buy products and invest in samples of his own clothing line. It also served as a catalyst for other sources of investment. Magdy has been in business since January 2016 and has recently opened his first boutique in San Francisco’s Union Square. “Working Solutions and the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund gave me a start; it’s great to have as an alternative to a traditional bank. Other lenders want to see a more established business, but how can people become a business if no one gives them the means to do so?”

Connect with San Francisco Entrepreneurs of Color Fund:

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