The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) today announced the launch of a major new initiative, the SNF Small Business Growth & Recovery Fund. The Fund’s mission is to help U.S. small businesses, focusing on those owned by people of color, women, and veterans as well as those in lower-income communities, find their footing in an acutely challenging economic landscape. The Fund’s vision is both short- and long-term. It aims to help small businesses that have been severely impacted by the pandemic stabilize, and at the same time seeks to assist in building a more inclusive economy.
Small businesses, which employ nearly half of people working in the private sector, are being devastated by the pandemic. The effects of this devastation have not been equal: declines in business activity have hit Black business owners nearly three times as hard as others, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Underlying these outcomes is a pattern of systemic inequality in which communities of color and those in low-income areas have been redlined, alienated, and left behind due to injustices in lending, housing, and business.
“SNF believes that our grantmaking is most effective when it’s done collaboratively, with the public, private, and nonprofit sectors working together to respond to complex and critical social challenges and to effect positive change,” said Stelios Vassilakis, SNF’s Chief Programs & Strategic Initiatives Officer. “Philanthropy has the flexibility to try to confront seemingly intractable challenges with sometimes unconventional solutions in a timely and efficient way. Direct support to small businesses is new territory for the Foundation. We’re approaching this aspect of SNF’s multidimensional response to the effects of the pandemic with the same focus on trying to maximize positive impact and reaching those most in need that informs all of our philanthropic work.”
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Small Business Growth & Recovery Fund grant program, which will open with $1.3 million, will award U.S.-based small businesses with up to $20,000 each in non-repayable grants, accompanied by complementary training and mentorship to support them. The initiative will be managed through Equivico by NCRC. To apply, visit www.equivico.com/ncrc-business-grants.
“As a nation, we can no longer ignore the economic devastation in Black and Brown neighborhoods resulting from bank disinvestment and non-investment in these neighborhoods. For too long, minority-owned businesses have found banks unwilling to make loans to their businesses, regardless of creditworthiness,” said John Taylor, President and Founder of NCRC. “Our hope is that more institutions will want to join us to combat this long-term and pervasive inequality these business owners have experienced. We are confident that our partnership with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation will help to heal the economic strain and disruption felt from COVID-19 and provide small businesses with access to capital, allowing for a more equitable economy and catalyzation for economic mobility.”
“Building a sturdy ladder of opportunity for everyone in our country is crucial to America’s future. Yet, small businesses are disappearing from streets across America. With each closure, our economic and social fabric is being unwoven,” said Eleni Delimpaltadaki Janis, Chief of Capital Markets for NCRC and Managing Partner of Equivico by NCRC. “We must come together to create a new kind of responsible capital that offers equal and expanded opportunity for everyone.”
This grant is part of SNF’s $100 million global COVID-19 relief initiative, which focuses on meeting immediate needs in food, education, health, and other areas, as well as laying the groundwork for long-term recovery. The initiative also includes grants to the New York Immigration Coalition to help immigrant-owned small businesses respond to COVID-19 and to Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners to deliver coaching on building financial health for workers who are in the hardest-hit sectors, unbanked, and undocumented. A number of other grants in the initiative incorporate emergency cash transfers to individuals, including major support to poverty-fighting organization Robin Hood.