Labor Day marks six months since the COVID pandemic began in March. In that time it’s estimated over 100,000 small businesses have closed forever, and close to one million more are at risk across the country. The Federal response to COVID has fallen despairingly short for small businesses, and despite the (flawed) Paycheck Protection Program, 54 percent of small business owners report laying off employees. In California, tens of thousands of small businesses have already gone under, and an LA Times survey in May found that 50 percent of the state’s businesses were in danger over the long term. A study from UC Santa Cruz has found that 40 percent of Black-owned businesses may not survive COVID if they don’t get grants and affordable capital immediately.
Small businesses are the backbone of our country and the culture-keepers of our communities. There are over 1.1 million minority-owned small businesses that employ more than 8.7 million workers. Now more than ever, small business owners need access to fair and affordable — if not free — capital. They also need free, nationwide access to expert advice to pivot their business, try new things, and reopen safely for their customers and workers.
Pacific Community Ventures has been working hard to stay available to small and minority-owned businesses throughout this crisis, and in bringing together companies and organizations invested in the success and resilience of small businesses across the United States. We are proud to have partnered with Kaiser Permanente to build the Small Business Support Circle, now launching on Labor Day — the six-month anniversary of the start of the COVID-fueled economic crisis — to show our increased support for those still struggling to stay in business and thrive again.
The growing list of companies and organizations who have joined to help us launch the Small Business Support Circle is led by Kaiser Permanente. It includes ICIC, eBay, DoorDash, Union Bank, EBALDC, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Comcast NBC Universal. We’re also excited to partner with Black-led organizations that serve business owners of color, like 1863 Ventures, The Wisdom Fund, HOPE Credit Union, LISC, the Western Regional Minority Supplier Diversity Council, and others to bring this pro bono service to small business owners nationwide.
Members of the PCV Small Business Support Circle are getting millions of dollars of free advice into the hands of job-creating small business owners by leveraging and scaling the unique BusinessAdvising.org pro bono advising platform to provide small businesses the support they need to survive and thrive, empowering workers, and the communities they serve nationwide.
“We are grateful to these organizations for showing up in this time of crisis for Black and entrepreneurs of color who have been the most disproportionately left out of the federal support packages, and already face historical discrimination and systemic challenges, “said Bulbul Gupta, President and CEO of Pacific Community Ventures. “We look forward to growing the support circle month by month with additional supporters, and partners who are helping us serve their communities nationwide.”
“Kaiser Permanente’s latest commitments are part of our pledge to address systemic racism and economic inequities that prevent communities from thriving,” said Bechara Choucair, MD, chief health officer of Kaiser Permanente. “This work will help disrupt, dismantle, and recast the systems that have held back communities of color, especially Black communities, and fueled racial health and wealth gaps for far too long.”
Closing The “Advice Gap”
Women of color account for 89% (1,625) of the new businesses opened every day over the past year before COVID. 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, Indigineous, 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. Through scalable tech paired with dedicated Client Experience Managers, PCV matches entrepreneurs with pro bono experts on any challenge they have, such as customer acquisition, improving financial management practices, or increasing their digital presence. Because they meet virtually, entrepreneurs are matched with the best possible advisor for them, regardless of location. This is a tremendous advantage to busy entrepreneurs, as well as those in underserved or rural areas.
Having smart advisers is essential for any business owner, but it’s doubly true for minority business owners navigating challenges that others in their communities may not have faced before. Lila Owens launched Cupcakin’ Bakeshop in her Berkeley, California home in 2007. Cupcakin’ began to grow and Lila relocated to a nearby storefront. The success happened fast, and Lila had a lot on her plate, so she went in search of an advisor to figure out the best ways to scale her operations to manage this growth. Lila came across PCV’s BusinessAdvising.org platform and we paired her with Robert Bonner, a business consultant based in New Jersey who specializes in operations. Over a series of months, he and Lila walked through how to scale and streamline her operations while maximizing her budget.
Lila says, “Robert has played a key role in grounding me and ensuring I’m analyzing things, and critically thinking about ideas and strategies before chasing pipe dreams.” Lila says she feels like she on the right path to achieve her long-term goals. “Working with a mentor like Robert has been super instrumental in our growth — absolutely amazing.” Since Lila began working with us, she’s opened a second store, with a third on the way this September. The COVID pandemic was a punch in the gut, but over six months of lockdown, reopening, and locking down again, she’s managed tp pivot her business away from catering orders and toward a delivery mode. She’s kept all of the employees she had before COVID, and even created two new jobs. “We’re here to stay. We have an excellent product, regardless of the circumstances, and we put out people first. We also happen to put out the very best cupcakes.”
Our average client receives 15 hours of free advising—worth more than $2,900 according to Taproot Foundation’s valuation of time donated by professionals. A multi-city pilot with a partner organization in 2018 showed that entrepreneurs who worked with PCV’s BusinessAdvising.org were twice as likely to create jobs, and had 14% higher average revenue growth than those that did not.
Commit To Joining Us
Through the Small Business Support Circle, organizations invested in the success of small businesses will help PCV significantly scale the reach and impact of the program, and extend it to their own communities — including those they serve, employ, or do business with, especially those who can use the additional support this year to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
Members of the Support Circle focus on a combination of any — or all — of the following:
- Impacting small business owners nationwide by scaling free business advice to pivot or reopen safely through PCV’s nonprofit BusinessAdvising.org platform. PCV has cultivated a national network of organizations that provide dollars and support to local businesses in underserved communities, including smaller cities and rural areas. With the backing of our Support Circle members, we can reach more women, minority, rural entrepreneurs, or entrepreneurs from economically distressed urban areas, who have the least access to quality advising networks, and will have the hardest time recovering from this crisis.
- Giving free access to BusinessAdvising.org to their own small business customers, investees, suppliers, and more. For example, companies can sponsor the female small business owners or refugee/immigrant business owners in their network by offering them the opportunity to access free business advisors. Non-profits, accelerators, and other CDFIs can partner with PCV to provide this access to their customers nationwide.
- Engaging their employees as remote skills-based volunteer advisors to support small businesses. By leveraging our platform as an employee engagement tool, Support Circle members can provide their employees the chance to make a difference for the small business community by serving as pro bono business advisors, a remote volunteer opportunity that is as flexible as it is impactful. Small businesses are looking for financial management, HR, marketing, and strategy support now more than ever.
Companies and organizations interested in learning more or joining as a partner are welcome to join us on the 17th at 12:30pm EST (9:30am PST) for a unique event launching the Small Business Support Circle. You’ll learn how to get involved and join, meet some of our small business owners, be treated to live music, and hear from the organizations in the Circle as we discuss the role of pro bono advising in advancing inclusive entrepreneurship. RSVP here.
To get involved, please contact Natalia Carrasco, Director, PCV Business Advising.