Pacific Community Ventures (PCV) today launched the Oakland Restorative Loan Fund – $2.5 million in no fee, zero-interest small business loans. This special program is thanks to community investments from UCSF and the City of Oakland, with grant support from funders like Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders program, Citi Foundation, Battery Powered, and GoFundMe. This fund can help combat gentrification and displacement, and support business owners as state and federal grant programs begin to end. As with all PCV loans, there are no application fees and no minimum credit score to apply.
During this initial launch, PCV is reaching Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and AAPI-owned businesses based in the Fruitvale area, West & East Oakland, North Oakland in the Temescal Telegraph Business Improvement District, and Chinatown.
PPP has ended for small business owners, and most small business grants programs have dried up. 95% of Black-owned small businesses that applied for PPP were rejected — and 99% were rejected for bank loans even before the pandemic. 45% of Black-owned small businesses, 36% of Latinx-owned, and 25% of AAPI-owned went under in the first three months of the pandemic. And at the same time, people of color have put in the highest number of new business applications in 2021. PCV is committed to shaping a more inclusive recovery and deploying impact-first capital to partner with entrepreneurs creating good jobs. Through September 2021, 84% of PCV’s loan capital has gone to women and/or BIPOC-owned businesses, and 85% has gone to small businesses located in economically distressed areas.
“The pandemic hit our communities in Oakland hard, with the economic and health crises falling hardest on Black, Brown, and AAPI communities,” says Bulbul Gupta, President and CEO of Pacific Community Ventures. “As PPP and grants programs end, hesitancy to take on debt is more heightened, and entrepreneurs striving to keep their businesses open need restorative capital and business coaching. We’ve built the Oakland Restorative Loan Fund in partnership with local community partners best positioned to reach the entrepreneurs most historically excluded, and we hope it serves as a model for high-impact community investment: one that combines private capital with philanthropy to support racial and economic justice, and the creation of good jobs that build community wealth again.”
“PCV’s Oakland Restorative Loan Fund’s zero-interest loans are another financial life-line for struggling small businesses,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “The launch’s focus on small businesses owned by people of color in some of our most distressed neighborhoods will inject financial resources into communities that weren’t able to access previous federal and state recovery assistance. The City is proud to support this effort to help bring essential capital and keep good jobs in Oakland.”
“As Oakland’s fourth-largest employer, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland recognizes our unique position to positively impact the health and well-being of our community,” said Francesca Vega, UCSF Vice Chancellor for Community & Government Relations. “In contributing to Pacific Community Ventures restorative loan fund, we are promoting health equity and an equitable economic recovery for small and diverse businesses throughout Oakland to scale and grow, leading to healthy and thriving families and communities.”
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PCV’s loan program is there for small businesses that have been most excluded from the traditional financial system and many SBA programs, such as Black, Indigenous, and POC-owned businesses, women and LGBTQI+ business owners, returning residents, immigrants and refugees, and other low-income communities.
These are business owners like Keba Konte of Oakland’s Red Bay Coffee. They’re successful yet can’t secure bank loans large enough to grow their businesses, and the amount of funding available from most microlenders is simply not enough. Entrepreneurs like Keba create stronger jobs and stronger communities. I began my entrepreneurial journey to make specialty coffee more accessible to a broader audience of underserved people while building in fair relations along the entire value stream,” Keba says. “We hire folks who have high barriers to employment, and that just comes to us naturally, but what comes to us naturally is different from most other coffee companies.”
Red Bay Coffee’s business model comes at a crucial time in Oakland’s history when working-class people — and people of color, in particular — are getting priced out of their neighborhoods. Keba hopes that by building a successful business and paying livable wages, he can allow them to stay. PCV has been proud to work with Keba and the Red Bay team for several years now.
“As federal financial resources wind down, the Black Cultural Zone CDC supports this opportunity to provide critical recovery funds to Black businesses that were excluded during the pandemic but remained unwavering in their commitment to providing livable wages, safe places to work, and building a strong cooperative economy for East Oakland”, says Ndidi Love, Manager, Economic Development Services, Black Cultural Zone CDC.
“Oakland Black Business Fund is excited to partner with Pacific Community Ventures to ensure that Black businesses receive capital that aligns with our economic justice agenda. The Oakland Restorative Loan fund will allow the Black business owners we support to confidently borrow low to no cost capital as a next step in their ongoing financing strategy” says Trevor Parham, Cofounder & General Partner, Oakland Black Business Fund.
“ESO Ventures is proud to be a partner of PCV’s Oakland Restorative Fund and ensure the Black and Brown businesses so essential to the vitality of Oakland’s neighborhoods have access to the patient capital they need to grow and thrive. These 0% interest loans will be the follow-on investment to the ESO Capital in the Community Fund, and allow our entrepreneurs to build an Oakland where people want to live, work, and buy,” says Alfredo Mathew III, Partner, ESO Ventures.
“The Oakland Restorative Loan Fund will inject zero-cost loan capital to our Oakland communities, allowing small entrepreneurs to recover from the devastating impact of the COVID pandemic,” says Patti Chang, CEO of California Feed The Hunger Fund.
“The Oakland Restorative Loan fund comes at an opportune time and is just the capital access partnership that The Unity Council’s Onward Oakland / Adelante Oakland technical assistance program needs to fund and fuel economic recovery and mitigate displacement of our commercial corridors in the Fruitvale and across East Oakland. We look forward to being one of Pacific Community Ventures’ trusted messengers and connecting our businesses to these crucial resources,” says Chris Iglesias, CEO, The Unity Council.
“Battery Powered is honored to support local entrepreneurs through the Oakland Restorative Loan Fund. Small businesses are the lifeblood of the Bay Area — they drive economic mobility, keep dollars in our communities, and contribute to the culture and character of our neighborhoods. Philanthropy has a part to play in promoting the growth and resilience of local BIPOC and AAPI businesses, and reimagining an economy based in equity and justice,” says Colleen Gregerson, Executive Director, Battery Powered.
We’re hoping to open the program to more small businesses in neighborhoods all across Oakland as we raise more capital. If you want to help by partnering with us, or funding the expansion of the Oakland Restorative Loan Fund, contact us here.
About Pacific Community Ventures
Pacific Community Ventures envisions a world of thriving communities where everyone has a fair shake. Our mission is to invest in small businesses and create good jobs for working people. We achieve our mission through a “Good Jobs, Good Business” model that combines affordable loans with pro-bono advising; our BusinessAdvising.org platform, impact measurement and research; and tools and small grants to create dignified good jobs that address racial and gender wealth gaps. Pacific Community Ventures is a 501c3 nonprofit community development financial institution (CDFI), and a member of the Responsible Lending Coalition.