Dear PCV Community,
We are coming up on six months of the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down cities and states across our country, and forcing America’s small businesses to the brink. We’ve seen stories of resiliency and hope, but at this milestone we know communities and small business owners across the country are barely hanging on, and we need our local, state, and Federal leadership to step up and meet this crisis with bold action and big ideas.One of the big ideas we’re continuing to follow is one we shared last month from Robert Smith: “Reparative Capital”.
Robert Smith is America’s richest Black man, and he’s been outspoken about how corporate and financial institutions and policymakers need to meet this moment, to prioritize and advance access to capital, mentorship, education, and improved health outcomes for Black entrepreneurs and low-wealth communities, including through CDFIs as necessary agents of this change.
Congress is debating a new bill to respond to the increasingly worsening COVID crisis across the majority of our country, and the economic devastation left in its wake. The first two CARES acts did not do enough to center the small businesses and workers being impacted the most by this pandemic. Small business owners, working people, and the CDFIs like us who support them need any new relief package to include Paycheck Protection Program forgiveness; an expansion of the PPP program to focus mainly on businesses with 100 or fewer workers; relief for self-employed Black and Brown business owners; an increase of the CDFI Fund at Treasury by at least $1.3 Billion this year to make up the shortfall facing community lenders; State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) protected; and rules changes letting all CDFIs — not just those doing SBA lending — to disburse PPP and other loans to truly reach Black, Brown, Native, and rural small businesses.
The COVID crisis has made us keenly aware of just who America’s essential workers are: grocery store workers, farm laborers, daycare staff, food service and restaurant workers, and on and on. The workers are most impacted by this crisis, disproportionately Black and Brown, are also ‘being paid poor wages and living without health and retirement benefits. We at PCV don’t want to go back to “normal.” What does it mean to recover when the pre-COVID economy was built on bad jobs, systematic racial and economic injustice, 40 years of flat wages, and small businesses declining everywhere? We need to build back better.
Racial justice and economic justice have always been linked. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech, and the March on Washington, was called The March For Jobs and Freedom. Good jobs and freedom are forever tied together. In the wake of historic racial and economic injustice, now is the time for impact investors to truly show how to invest with authentic intentionality and affect measurable systemic change. We need investors to look beyond what’s worked in the past and deploy their dollars into proven models that focus on the needs of Black and Brown entrepreneurs and communities, while mandating the jobs created are good jobs with living wages and benefits.
People of color start more businesses than anyone else. African-American women are 300% more likely to launch a new business than a white person, and Latinas are 180% more likely – but both groups are also more likely to fail. Part of the reason? Many female entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs of color, and Indiginous and immigrant business entrepreneurs say they lack access to advisors and networks that could help their businesses thrive. This puts these job-creating entrepreneurs at a disadvantage.
Before COVID, 70% of small businesses whose owners have an advisor were shown to survive at least 5 years—twice the rate of businesses whose owners lack advisors. That need for expert advice has only been exacerbated by COVID, as many business owners need to pivot and adapt like never before.
Pacific Community Ventures is fighting the small business advice gap with our nationwide platform, BusinessAdvising.org. The BusinessAdvising.org platform provides Black and Brown small business owners with expert, pro bono advising to foster sustainable growth and create high-quality jobs that are good for workers and good for the business. We’re scaling the Business Advising program across the country thanks to partnerships with Kaiser Permanente, ICIC, and our fellow CDFIs in JPMorgan Chase’s Entrepreneurs of Color Fund. The PCV team is also creating expanded content and recruiting more advisors to help small businesses access COVID-19 relief resources, information about ways to pivot their business models to meet market demand, and improve their chance of survival and recovery.
We also know that to accomplish our mission, we need ideas and insights from people of all walks of life and all sectors. Our Advisory Council is just that, and we’d like you to meet the newest member: Nathalie Molina Niño, entrepreneur, builder capitalist (at O³) and tech globalization veteran focused on high-growth businesses that benefit women and the planet. She is the author of LEAPFROG, The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs.
We’ll close by reminding you that August is Black Business Month. Support the community and build local wealth by shopping at Black-owned businesses today — and every day. Here’s a growing list of almost 300 of PCV’s own Black-owned small business clients all across the country. Shop local, and shop Black businesses.
Be safe, be well.
President & CEO, Pacific Community Ventures