Black Owned Business Loan Fund Seen as Potential Tool for Economic Growth | Business

ANDERSON – In her real estate business, Wendi Carter-Hopkins sees many homes that may need extra care. So this year she started her own pressure washing business.

“Being a real estate agent and seeing all the houses with moss and stuff growing on it gave me the idea,” Carter-Hopkins said.

She started Carter Power Washing and Services with her son, Ramon Buckley, in April. But the persistent coronavirus pandemic has made it more difficult to connect in person with potential investors.

“I’ve been through bank financing, but since this is a new business, sometimes they don’t want to take a risk,” she said.

Carter-Hopkins has many peers who share similar experiences. Data released by the Federal Reserve and analyzed this year by Nerdwallet shows that black business owners get less financing less often and at higher interest rates than their white counterparts.

One measurement showed that 80% of white business owners received at least a percentage of the financing they requested from a bank, compared to 66% of black business owners. According to the Minority Business Development Agency, the average interest rate paid for loans by black businesses was 7.8%, compared to 6.4% for non-minority businesses.

Locally, Madison County business leaders are hopeful that a new loan fund specifically aimed at black-owned businesses will help close the gap. The Indiana Black-Owned Business Loan Fund, announced this month, has already asked nearly 40 entrepreneurs to apply for roughly $ 1.5 million in seed capital.

“This will not solve the wealth gap,” said Adam Hoeksema, executive director of Bankable, the nonprofit lending arm of the Flagship Enterprise Center that administers the program. “The hope is that while we can’t solve everything, we want to be part of the solution and do the part that we can. “

Making capital available – especially in the midst of a pandemic – can be a complicated process, Hoeksema added. The new loan pool is designed to speed up obtaining funds for those who request it, as well as to help them in the long term by stabilizing their credit history and providing advice on financial reporting and access to finance. other business development services.

“I hope this will allow black businesses that have battled the pandemic to get back on track financially and help them stay on track,” said Betsy Pearson, Black Chamber of Commerce board member. of Anderson-Madison County. .

“This could be a whole new channel for someone considering starting a business. “

As the fund helps those who want to start their own businesses, Pearson hopes that when those businesses are successful, investments will begin to trickle down to areas of the city that lack development.

“We need to pay more attention financially to the west side of the community and help these businesses become financially viable,” she said. “I think that’s what most black businesses really want to do – give back. It is not about their own self-promotion.

Other executives hailed the new fund as an important tool in the city’s efforts to improve its overall business environment.

“I think any help our businesses can get in terms of growth, development and those types of areas will be an asset,” said Rev. Manuel Hunt, chairman of the board of directors of the Black County Chamber of Commerce. by Anderson-Madison. “Everything we are doing now in this area is better than what we have done before. “

Hoeksema said he sees the new loan fund as a starting point for other programs that could help entrepreneurs facing other challenges.

“I hope we can raise some additional funds that will allow us to start tackling other issues, like when people don’t have a down payment,” he said. “It’s not something that we have yet, but as we develop and expand this loan fund, hopefully we can add some additional benefits.”

To follow Andy knight on Twitter @Andrew_J_Knight, or call 765-640-4809.

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