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Investing in Small, Diverse Businesses Is Good for the Economy

By Noelani Kirschner, Share America

Because many entrepreneurs who are people of color and women are less likely to have the capital needed to start their dream company, American investors who see opportunity in these businesses are using social-impact investment funds to invest in their future growth.

This means supplying diverse entrepreneurs with capital, grants and loans or buying their debt.

The funds align with the Biden administration’s goals of closing the racial wealth and homeownership gap.

“Too many small businesses owned by people of color struggle to access loans and federal programs that can help them grow and succeed,” a White House statement said June 1, 2021, announcing a $30 billion investment in new Small Business Administration initiatives. “President Biden has proposed a historic effort to tackle these persistent challenges and empower small business creation and expansion in communities of color.”

Unlocking potential

Boston Impact Initiative chief executive officer Betty Francisco says financing entrepreneurs who are women and people of color is essential to building the national and international economy.

“As a Latina and Asian person by background, I often saw the barriers that our small, minority-owned businesses have in terms of raising capital, having access to resources or the networks needed to grow your business,” she says. “I had grown my own network and I wanted to use it for good.”

Over the past year, Boston Impact Initiative’s fund created 1,415 jobs — 80% of which went to people of color, according to their annual report. Of the 50 businesses the fund supports, 67% of the entrepreneurs identify as people of color and 38% are women.

The fund supports small businesses, which can mean single business owners or companies with as many as 300 employees, Francisco says.

One business, ChopValue Boston, is a slightly larger small business — a national chain with an office in Massachusetts. The Boston company, started in the state by Elaine Chow, takes used chopsticks and turns them into furniture and decorations.