Since 1866, Juneteenth has been an important and powerful day of celebration in the U.S., marking the emancipation of slaves and the right to freedom. Originating in Texas, Juneteenth is now recognized throughout the country and is celebrated in most major cities across the nation.
“Today, Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future.”—Juneteenth.com
Politicians, business leaders, and activists are increasingly calling on the government to recognize Juneteenth as a national federal holiday. We all have a part to play in strengthening our communities, and supporting Black-owned businesses, nonprofits and other initiatives is vital to creating economic equality and opportunities.
The Importance of Community Development Financial Institutions
Juneteenth is all about celebrating our communities—our friends and neighbors who live and work together to recognize history, embrace culture, strengthen connections, and look to the future. Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) help to fund the businesses central to these communities, strengthening the success of Black-owned organizations and all the people they touch.
This Juneteenth, as we recognize the good work nonprofits and businesses are doing, let’s dig a little deeper into the CDFIs we partner with that can help that happen.
BBIF: A Leading Non-Traditional Lender in Florida
BBIF is Florida’s leading non-traditional lender and financial coaching provider. They’re a CDFI dedicated to:
- Developing and promoting Black business enterprises.
- Providing education, training, loans, and investments.
- Promoting an atmosphere that supports the development of Black-owned businesses.
“BBIF is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), private, non-profit loan fund that specializes in providing loans and financial technical assistance services to Black, minority, and underserved small businesses throughout Florida.”—BBIF, Our Approach
- Provided over 400 business loans.
- Created over 12,500 jobs.
- Lent out over $45 million.
- Coached over 5,000 hours of financial training.
TruFund: An Economic Development Lender Across NY, LA, AL, and TX
TruFund is a CDFI supporting underserved businesses and communities across New York, Louisiana, Alabama, and Texas. In addition to offering small business loans, TruFund also:
- Offers a financial empowerment program.
- Provides one-to-one business development consulting.
- Holds group training and workshops.
- Conducts business assessments.
- Offers loan packaging and bonding assistance.
“Our mission is to promote and foster economic development within underserved communities and among disadvantaged populations. TruFund achieves this by providing innovative financial solutions that have an impact, revitalize communities, and create jobs. As a nonprofit, mission-driven entity. TruFund offers affordable loan capital to small businesses and nonprofit organizations that are financially viable but have difficulty accessing capital from banks or other conventional lenders.”—TruFund, About Us
TruFund also offers New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs) to encourage economic development investment in low-income communities nationwide.This has resulted in:
- Over $250 million in business investments.
- The creation of more than 10,000 jobs.
- The retention of more than 15,000 jobs.
These projects provide underserved communities with:
- High-quality jobs and workforce development.
- High-quality healthcare.
- Education and healthy food options to low-income residents.
- Revitalization and community development in blighted communities.
Investment in Black Businesses Will Transform Our Economy
The Black business community has been underserved for many years—there are more than 2.5 million Black-owned businesses in the United States but they collectively generate around $150 billion in revenue.
“Investments that don’t strategically consider place and sector are not real investments; it’s charity. Black communities and entrepreneurs across the U.S. need investments to reach specific industries in particular regions to maximize growth.”—Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP.
Good policy, strong support, recognition, and funding, will create much better outcomes.
“We know large corporates and others have publicly committed many billions to support Black businesses and communities, but most of them aren’t organically connected to Black people or places. The best way to leverage those is to invest in Black-led financial firms with a history and strategy to invest in high growth business led by Black people. This is the delicious low-hanging fruit of U.S. economic recovery.”—Stephen Deberry, Founder and Chief Investment Officer at Bronze Investments
A report from The Brookings Institute suggested several strategies to promote the growth of Black businesses:
- Providing better access to mortgages and home ownership for Black individuals, as financial security and savings give Black entrepreneurs the safety they need to start businesses.
- Focusing on Black businesses in specific industries, like healthcare, utilities, and manufacturing.
- Promoting strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that has disproportionately impacted Black businesses.
- Encouraging higher Black business representation in major metro areas and cities.
- Providing access to banking and financial services, as a large number of Black people are unbanked or underbanked.
- Setting goals to increase the number of Black businesses that qualify for government and large corporate contracts.
“Once foundations commit to racial equity, a world of investing opportunities opens up, with tremendous potential to positively impact individuals, organizations, and systems… …Organizations led by people of color—whether small businesses, new ventures, or intermediaries, such as community development financial institutions (CDFIs)—often experience underinvestment. To address these disparities, foundations are examining and changing the demographics of the leaders they support.”—Matt Oneck, Impact Investing and Racial Equity: Foundations Leading the Way
This Juneteenth, take a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come, and how far we have left to go. Then celebrate that together, we can help businesses, foundations, and organizations make a difference.