FRESNO, California (KGPE) — For decades, communities of color have shared stories about the struggle of becoming entrepreneurs. Many cite having plenty of good ideas, education, and drive. The main hurdle has been a lack of capital to get started.
“We’re here to help businesses get the access to the funding, the capital they need to start or grow their business,” says Tate Hill, Executive Director of Access Plus Capital. It’s a company that offers a variety of low-interest loans to minority-owned businesses.
“Someone starts off with a small loan. It gets them the capital they need, and they grow that business to a stable enterprise in our community,” Hill says.
Loans that over time have helped many black entrepreneurs who had great ideas, but a lack of funding.
“Historically African Americans have not had their fair share of investment and funding that would really grow their businesses.”
For years, Hill says that banks used a process called “redlining” to prevent funds from flowing into communities of color. It’s a problem that Access Plus Capital has tackled head-on.
“Those communities that have been most underserved have access to resources to grow their business,” Hill explained.
In addition to a financial investment, Hill says that they train entrepreneurs on financial recordkeeping and how to build business credit through a program they call “technical assistance.”
Hill says the group’s various funding streams allow them some flexibility on who they can make loans to.
“Our motive is not profit, but to have an impact through our community with entrepreneurs,” Hill says. That theme is shared by Self Help Credit Union.
“You may have had the door shut at another banking institution, but we are super flexible,” said Rosa Pereira who works at Self Help’s Fresno branch. She says the group is happy to have been responsible for funding local non-profits like churches and grocery stores.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Pereira says. “I would do this for free if I didn’t have to make my own mortgage payment. It’s so, so rewarding.”
Birthed during the civil rights era in North Carolina, Pereira says that over 70% of Self Help Credit Union’s members are African Americans.
“We see people where we have started their credit,” Pereira says. Improving credit is vital to the success of Black businesses and Tate Hill sees it as good business for everyone.
“When we support our entrepreneurs, we help to raise the financial profile not only for that individual but also their family and those workers that are employed at that location,” Hill said.