Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham accepting applications for Small Business Impact Grant

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 6:39 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham is accepting applications for a new grant program designed to support small, underserved businesses throughout the area.

This grant will help Community Development Finance Institutions, or CDFIs, and other community lenders, support these businesses with a particular focus on those that are Black owned.

The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham has a specific goal: to help Black owned, and other underserved businesses, grow by providing more flexible, creative capital and technical assistance.

“Anybody that works with businesses that are owned by women, people of color, people with disabilities, or who have other structural impediments to accessing capital typically or historically, this is a grant that will put that capital in the marketplace, and we have specific or special focus right now on Black-owned businesses.”

Senior Program Officer for the Community Foundation, Zhaundra Jones, says $1.5 million is up for grabs through the Small Business Impact Grant.

Small business can’t apply for the grants themselves, but the institutions who lend to them can.

“They will go to those who receive grant awards from us and then be able to access capital that’s more flexible and more patient than what they typically find in the marketplace,” Jones explained.

Jones said there are two issues many Black owned business owners said they face regularly: access to capital and business support.

Jones said these grants will help with these issues and build more equity.

“In Jefferson County, African Americans make up 43% of the population, but only own about 4.2% of businesses. It does point to the fact that there are systems and barriers in place that we may not be aware of but are still having an impact on people’s ability to get loans, to receive investments, even get in front of the right people to ask for support and help. If we can provide a support system that’s really there to help them grow and learn it will help not only those businesses, but our economy overall,” Jones said.

Jones said the Community Foundation has worked hard to ensure this grant money will get into the hands of those who need it most.

She said the application guidelines are strict and competitive, and designed to ensure CDFIs and lenders are passionate about working with Black business owners.

The application deadline is July 16th, and jones anticipates business owners will have access to the money by the end of the summer.

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