NCRC and Equivico end collaboration in the small business lending and philanthropic fields

As NCRC and Equivico end our collaboration in the small business lending and philanthropic fields, we are pleased to report on the results of our work.

NCRC and Equivico, which was seeded by NCRC, have worked in the last three years on a mission to reduce the barriers to funding for BIPOC- and woman-owned small businesses by using a range of investment, lending and philanthropic solutions. With the critical support of investors and donors, we developed a financial toolkit that includes the following: a novel social impact investment fund, managed by Equivico, that sought to finance and influence a growing ecosystem of alternative, tech-enabled lenders to lend responsibly and inclusively; direct loans to small businesses originated by the NCRC CDF; and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Small Business Growth & Recovery Fund grant program, a philanthropic program that provided grants and loans to small businesses to aid in their ongoing recovery from COVID-19 and to support ongoing growth.

We were able to address the needs of a range of small businesses across the U.S. that were positively impacted by our work and, in turn, they continued to support their communities – with the creation of jobs, social cohesion and wealth building.

Among them is Whiskey & Sticks, a small Black, woman-owned and thriving business. Kelder Summers, the founder and owner of Whiskey & Sticks, has worked with Equivico since June 2021, including participating in Equivico’s business advisory program and then taking a loan to scale up her services. A five-year-old business set in the heart of New Orleans, Whiskey & Sticks doesn’t just sell premium spirits and cigars; it shares history and culture with neighbors and travelers alike, who come from near and far to experience the vibe.

Summers, a former radio broadcaster, who also works in strategic communications, started the business alongside her veteran newscaster husband, and both were inspired by her deep ties to the Gentilly neighborhood. She grew up just blocks away from Bayou Road, the oldest street in New Orleans, which had once been a hub for free people of color to set up shop to reach customers going from the bayou to the Mississippi River.

“From getting a loan from Equivico to attending their business advisory program, working with Equivico has been a wonderful alliance for me,” said Summers. “Owning Whiskey & Sticks means financial freedom and building equity that I can hand down to my son, a legacy of sorts, that I can be proud of. I am creating jobs in an area that, historically, has been a place of economic growth for people of color. Having this loan and access to intellectual resources also allows me to scale up so that we can not only stay afloat but grow. My advice for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs is to keep working through the process no matter the idea or how far-fetched it seems. It may not work the second time or even the fifth time but keep working until it works for you. It is absolutely worth it!” — Kelder Summers

The SNF Small Business Growth & Recovery grant program had a significant impact on the 65 small businesses that were selected to receive funding of $20,000 each. These grants enabled recipients to make critical improvements to their business operations by, among other things, launching new products and services, retaining, training and hiring new personnel, and attracting new customers through increased marketing efforts.

The recipients of these grants represent a diverse array of small-business owners:

  • 83% identify as people of color;
  • 54% are women;
  • 9% are military veterans;
  • 8% are people with disabilities; and
  • 3% identify as LGBTQ+.

Since receiving their grants, these small businesses reported significant improvements in revenue, profitability and asset acquisition. By 2021:

In addition:

  • 51% added new staff or business advisors;
  • 46% increased consumer awareness of their brand;
  • 32% upgraded or expanded their operational space; and
  • 30% created a new website or increased other online assets.
  • nearly half of these businesses (46%) reported a greater than 20% increase in revenue;
  • over two-thirds (68%) reported an increase in profitability; and
  • nearly four out of five businesses (79%) saw an increase in demand for their products or services.

Testimonials from participants in the SNF Transformation Initiative reflect these positive outcomes:

“Equivico’s Small Business Enhancement Program was a game changer for my business! Having direct access to industry leaders with real world expertise was invaluable, and the tips and tools shared with our cohort helped me gain a better understanding of business best practices like KPl’s and employee cultivation. We have put some of what I learned into practice and are already seeing great results!” – KS

“I did more planning in these past six weeks and took more strategic action than I have in ten years. Incredible community of entrepreneurs and leadership by Equivico’s team.” – KR

Access to capital by small businesses, and even more so by those chronically underserved by the financial system, is critical to wealth building and to establishing a vibrant, inclusive and equitable U.S. economy. Alternative lenders, from CDFIs to responsible fintech lenders, play a critical and growing role in providing credit to small businesses. As fintech plays a greater role in lending, it is critical that the algorithms used in underwriting do not improperly weed out those applicants who have the greatest need. Our work together incorporated a process to obtain that outcome.

NCRC and Equivico are thankful for the small businesses, investors and donors who entrusted their hopes with us, and we look forward to continuing our respective efforts to innovate and make a positive impact.

-By NCRC and Eleni Delimpaltadaki Janis/Equivico

NCRC is a coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to creating a nation that not only promises but delivers opportunities for all Americans to build wealth and live well. We advance equitable opportunities to build community and personal wealth through access to credit, capital, careers, investment and ownership, and we advise, incubate and invest in enterprises that expand economic mobility and strengthen communities of historic disinvestment. NCRC advocates and informs local leaders, policymakers, and the private sector on how to make a Just Economy a national priority and a local reality.

Equivico is an impact investment manager specializing in private credit. It seeks to demonstrate the power of advancing an inclusive economy that delivers competitive returns for investors, businesses and communities alike. Learn more at www.equivico.com.

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