SBA Targets Black Business for Money
By Dianne Anderson
Businesses working with a quarter-million dollars in revenues may be looking to bump up to the next level of success with the Small Business Administration’s latest THRIVE intensive hybrid and online curriculum.
But even entrepreneurs on a shoestring budget can get in on new SBA program action.
Godfrey Hinds, an expert in economics, said SBA is working hard to develop a marketing plan to reach underserved communities, not just with program information, but empowering educational opportunities.
“These past two years have demonstrated there’s a need that our community be prepared and be able to access to our programs and services when they become available,” said Dr. Hinds, Lead Economic Development Specialist for SBA’s Orange County / Inland Empire District Offices.
“That is one of the focuses that we have in the plan, also recruiting more lenders especially micro-lenders so we can have smaller loans available to our community,” he said.
Getting Black businesses up to speed is always a work in progress for Kim “Kat” Shepherd, who is full tilt with her new SCORE new outreach section tailored specifically to meet the needs of Black business owners.
Shepherd, an entrepreneur and technology teacher at the UCR, California Extension, has developed an easy way to get the community involved in real-time with live business learning and mentoring classes.
“No one else has this. You can ask questions and get answers live from the comfort of your own home. People are driving and listening. They can join in and talk live with lawyers and marketing people,” she said.
Locally, she said they have implemented an exhaustive level of business content and resources at their score503.org
“We have mentoring for free, we never charge for it, it’s against our ethics policy. We have workshops that are low cost, sometimes $20,” she said.
Shepherd is also chair of SCORE National Black American Committee, which targets high-level support to Black business owners and connections to finance opportunities.
More wealth for Black businesses could create more jobs in the community, but she said generational wealth has been robbed by historic discrimination in homeownership, discrimination in lending, and again through the last Great Recession with subprime loans.
The sad cycle continues, but she said SCORE, which is funded by the SBA, is on track to help the underserved community learn how to get the right kind of business support.
“I understand being a Black American and how our underserved communities don’t have these funds,” said Shepherd, also director of Southern California SCORE. “I’m growing this team of national Black leaders. It is my passion because we don’t have the institutional wealth.”
For bigger businesses, SBA offers high-level support with its T.H.R.I.V.E. Program. Qualifications to join require revenues around $250,000 with at least three years in business, and at least one employee, other than self. The program is free, runs from July 5 through December 16, and includes 100 total hours of learning, homework, coaching and mentoring.
“We’re excited to see what type of business owner cohort we can gather, we’re at the beginning stages to attract business interest,” said Christopher Lorenzana, Deputy Director of the Orange County / Inland Empire District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
To help smaller businesses, he said SBA Community Navigator pilot program is also picking up speed.
The $100 million competitive grant program established by the American Rescue Plan helped SBA to fund their hub organizations, reaching African American businesses at the grassroots level, and other underserved business owners of color. Other stimulus dollars through PPP, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, restaurant revitalization, and Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program also helped hard-hit owners.
He thinks the latest loan data look promising.
Within their Orange County, San Bernardino and Riverside district, he said that 32 SBA loans were marked as going to Black business owners, totaling $15.6 million for the fiscal year 2021. The latest Year to Date fiscal 2022 for the half-year ending March showed that Black-owned businesses received 22 SBA loans at $13 million.
If that uptrend continues, Black businesses may see 44 loans at $26 million by their fiscal year end 2022. That number could be higher because 429 loans issued did not reflect demographic data as lenders aren’t required to submit race data on borrowers. Black businesses may have received some of those loans.
Recently, the National Black Chamber of Commerce was a hub recipient of SBA funding. The local office also hosted two webinars on bridging and empowering Black American small businesses.
He said the Community Navigator program was launched because SBA leadership realized that instead of reinventing the wheel, they can work with established organizations to get funding out to the community.
In honor of Black History Month, he said SBA also announced fresh funding for women’s business centers in HBCUs.
“On the west coast, we don’t have an HBCU in our district, but nationwide that funding has been made available for $1.5 million for ten new women’s business centers, specifically for MSI, minority-serving institutions,” he said.
SBA funds SCORE mentoring organizations and resource partners. He is optimistic about the new national initiative completely focused on Black business owners.
“It’s a concerted effort to connect SCORE and the mentoring support with Black-owned businesses, and connect with business owners in ways that work for them, unique and online to help them succeed,” he said.
For more information, see
For THRIVE, see https://www.sba.gov/sba-learning-platform/thrive-emerging-leaders-reimagined
To check out local resources: https://www.sba.gov/local-assistance/community-navigators