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EDA and MBDA Support a New Generation of Black Entrepreneurs

At the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Black History Month is an opportunity to shine a light on the legacies and achievements of those within the Black business community and to honor the significant cultural and economic contributions of Black Americans to our country. This is also a time to encourage greater participation and reaffirm our commitment to greater access to opportunity and equity in Black and other historically underserved communities as we build an economy that works for all Americans. 

Only five percent of Black Americans own equity in a business in the United States, according to an October 2020 McKinsey study. Other studies have shown that Black entrepreneurs are at an increased risk of having their profitability harmed by a lack of access to the capital they need to build and grow their businesses. 

Initiatives like the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) program as well as programs delivered by the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) are helping narrow inequities facing Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs). EDA’s RLF program assists businesses by capitalizing local investment programs that provide gap financing to businesses that might not be able to obtain traditional bank loans, while MBEs can access a variety of technical assistance, including access to capital, access to contracts and access to markets by contacting a local MBDA Business Center.  

One Black entrepreneur who has seen the value of these Department of Commerce programs first-hand is Gaby Long of Eureka, California. In 2015, Long started A Taste of Bim, an authentic Caribbean bistro in Eureka’s historic Old Town. 

Born in Barbados, Long immigrated to the United States as a child and dreamed of one day starting a family-run restaurant that would serve top quality, Caribbean cuisine using locally sourced ingredients. But bank loans for bars and restaurants have been historically difficult to come by.  

Long approached the Redwood Region Economic Development Commission (RREDC) for support. She received a loan and was able to make her dreams of restaurant ownership a reality.  

To date, RREDC has received more than $6 million in federal funding to capitalize and administer RLFs. 

Since she opened A Taste of Bim, Long’s entrepreneurial acumen and growing commercial success has allowed her to expand her business with the purchase of a food truck to take her signature dishes like sweet coconut bread and pineapple pork chops to area festivals and events. Her handmade mango chutney and hot pepper sauces are now sold in local grocery stores. And, last year, she purchased a closed coffee shop, revitalizing and reopening it as The Grind Café, in addition to opening a satellite A Taste of Bim location on the campus of Cal Poly Humboldt.    

“I am so proud to be part of an organization working to ensure success stories like Gaby’s are possible for all Americans no matter where you come from," said Alejandra Castillo, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development and former National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency. "Equity is at the heart of the work being done at the Department of Commerce. The federal government can’t act as a surrogate for American ingenuity. What we can do is offer the framework and mechanisms needed to encourage and support entrepreneurs like Gaby.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly all U.S. industries. However, evidence shows the crisis has disproportionately affected minority-owned businesses. A study carried out by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) revealed that businesses run by minorities, women and veterans reported harsher downturns from COVID-19. To help address these needs, Congress authorized $25 million in additional funding for MBDA to expand programs and services focused on recovery efforts.  

Angel’s Learning Center, owned and operated by Krizia Angel Rogers, is a childcare center located in Brooklyn Park, MN. Krizia's love of children made her vision for a North Minneapolis daycare business clear—provide high quality, community-based childcare with an emphasis on education. She opened the doors to Angel's Learning Center in 2013, serving families with children from 6 weeks to 5 years of age by providing childcare, preschool programs, before and after school programs and Saturday drop-in care.  

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Krizia had six employees working for her. When COVID hit, Angel’s Learning Center’s enrollment drastically decreased due to parents working from home or job loss. This created a shortfall in revenues. Krizia was nearing the point of laying off some of her employees. In May 2020, Krizia obtained her first PPP loan for $90,000, with the help of business experts at Meda, an MBDA Business Center, funded by an MBDA CARES Act grant. This allowed her to keep her employees and childcare center in operation. With the help of Meda, Krizia then successfully applied for 100% forgiveness on the PPP Loan. This has helped sustain business, keep her employees, and pursue purchasing the building where Angel’s Learning Center is located.  

“I am inspired by the resilience of our nation’s minority entrepreneurs who still face challenges due to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Miguel Estién, MBDA Acting National Director. “The resources we provide help businesses reopen, sustain, and grow.  We understand that the economic stability of businesses like Angel Learning Center creates a positive ripple effect not only within their company and for their employees, but also into the surrounding neighborhood and the greater community.” 

To date, MBDA has awarded twenty-eight grants totaling $18 million under the Coronavirus Relief Act. MBDA grantees have assisted minority business enterprises prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by identifying and accessing local, State, and Federal government assistance.  

Learn more about EDA and MBDA programs at eda.gov and mbda.gov.