Female business owner in restaurant
From Grants.gov to Humble Ventures, these nine government agencies, programs and venture capital firms are designed to assist Black-owned businesses with getting capital. — Getty Images/ljubaphoto

In the world of entrepreneurship, Black Americans have been historically underrepresented. Black entrepreneurs currently account for 9.4% of business owners despite making up more than 12% of the U.S. labor force. One of the largest factors holding back Black-owned businesses is access to financial capital, with research showing that Black-owned non-employer businesses are far less likely to receive financing than white-owned firms. Additionally, Black entrepreneurs are about three times as likely to have growth and profitability hindered by a lack of financial capital.

Knowing that obstacles still exist, both public and private organizations have worked to boost funding opportunities for Black-owned businesses. Here are nine government agencies, programs and venture capital firms that can assist Black-owned businesses with getting capital.

Backstage Capital

The venture capital firm Backstage Capital is known in the tech industry for its commitment to investing in companies led by underrepresented founders including people of color and women. Backstage Capital founder and managing partner Arlan Hamilton inspirationally started the firm after experiencing homelessness and has convinced business all-stars like Marc Andreessen and Chris Sacca to invest in the fund. To date, the firm has invested more than $7 million in over 130 companies led by underrepresented founders. Additionally, the firm recently started Backstage Crowd, a crowdfunding platform where accredited investors can contribute up to $5,000 to companies with diverse founders.

Community Development Financial Institutions Fund

The Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, part of the U.S. Treasury Department, plays a vital role to help lesser-served U.S. business owners by increasing access to capital. Many Black-owned businesses have been helped by CDFIs because these institutions specifically “provide loans, investments, financial services and technical assistance to underserved populations and communities.” On top of this, the CDFI Fund offers tax credits to spur investment. Business owners can search for local financial institutions that have received money from the CDFI Fund and that, in turn, should be able to provide tailored assistance.

Founders First Capital Partners

The Founders First Capital Partners offers a unique take on funding with “revenue-based investment” for service-based companies led by minority, veteran or women founders. The organization has a flexible payback model where payments are determined from cash flow instead of being a set amount each month. On top of investments, the firm also has business accelerator programs and a learning platform that can help business owners.

Grants.gov

The website Grants.gov offers a centralized location to learn about and apply for federal grant opportunities from more than 20 agencies. These “grant-making agencies” award more than $500 billion annually to businesses of all stripes, meaning no matter the background or type of company you have, there may be a grant opportunity available through this portal.

Check out this episode of CO— Blueprint to learn how and why it makes sense to create a more diverse and inclusive business model.

Black business owners looking for guidance on local funding opportunities can do so at one of the MBDA’s Minority Business Centers, which are located in major metropolitan areas all over the country.

Harlem Capital Partners

New York City-based Harlem Capital Partners debuted its $40 million diversity-focused venture capital fund in December 2019 with a goal of helping to invest in minority and women founders around the United States. The firm targets companies that are already generating revenue with tech-enabled products and services, and it hopes to invest in “1,000 diverse founders over the next 20 years.”

Humble Ventures

Humble Ventures, a venture development firm incubated by Ogilvy Consulting, provides consulting to diverse tech startups to help them grow and find funding. The organization said it specifically wants to enable entrepreneurs that are “solving problems for growing demographic segments” that “represent the markets of the future.”

Kapor Capital

Oakland-based venture capital firm Kapor Capital prides itself on its commitment to help diverse entrepreneurs, as “founding teams from under-represented backgrounds provide a competitive edge.” The company’s current portfolio has 59% of its investments going to companies with “a founder who identifies as a woman and/or an underrepresented person of color.”

Minority Business Development Agency

The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce since 1969, works to promote the growth of minority-owned businesses. One aspect of their work includes providing resources about grants and loans. Black business owners looking for guidance on local funding opportunities can do so at one of the MBDA’s Minority Business Centers, which are located in major metropolitan areas all over the country.

Small Business Administration (SBA)

Last but certainly not lease, the Small Business Administration (SBA) provides important resources to small businesses of all kinds and has multiple programs that can help Black-owned businesses. The SBA’s Lender Match tool helps connect small businesses with SBA-approved CDFIs (read more about them above) and small lenders that can provide a personalized touch. Notably, the SBA also has two federal contacting programs that may be relevant to Black-owned businesses — the 8(a) Business Development program and the HUBZone program.

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Published August 04, 2020