Questions about the women and minority business development funds – 1) How many people/businesses have applied for funds, and what is their demographic info (women, white women, people of color, etc.); 2) How many have received funds – who and what are their demographics?; 3) How does the application process overcome barriers produced by systemic racism and systemic misogyny? If it does not address these barriers, how is it of benefit to women and people of color?
If everyone is equal, why single out women and people of color, or minorities?
Via the loans available through BCU in 2019, how many did BCU award, and how many of those did African-American applicants receive?
(Multiple, similar questions are grouped together.)
-We have heard in the city that there are gaps to accessing the capital funds to start businesses. We are working to unravel the red tape that government can create. We talk with people in the community and figure out how we can modify processes to meet their needs and break down barriers. We take our application process to them and ask how they would work through it. We have a host of wonderful partners who are learning with us; we know we can’t do this alone.
Some of the programs we are taking right to the communities, like the Sisters in Business program. We also are holding business training classes. During one, we had a language barrier with a Burmese neighbor; the next round, we got an interpreter to assist. We are holding our programs in intentional ways, and learning as we go. If we see a barrier we were not aware of, we alter the program so we can address it.
The Battle Creek Unlimited Real Estate Improvement Fund, a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, has four requirement pools – affordable housing, jobs for low- to moderate-income neighbors, women- and minority-owned businesses, and historic preservation. We have about a dozen applicants, and a majority are from the women- and minority-owned business pool. We are still in the grant-awarding phase, and will continue tracking that data.
-It is important to recognize equity among all individuals. Unfortunately, not all individuals have always been treated equally. There have been demonstrated systematic and institutional practices, such as redlining, that have limited the access of women- and minority-owned businesses to the resources and opportunities afforded to others. We have designed our efforts to generate equitable results by leveling the playing field for those who have been under-served in the past. There is plenty of opportunity for all in our community, and we strive to ensure that women- and minority-owned businesses have access to those opportunities.
-There are two BCU loan funds. From the Direct Investment Fund Loans, BCU has a total of six active loans, with two additional commitments. Of the active loans, three are designated minority or woman recipients; of those three, one is an African-American recipient. Of the two additional commitments, one is a designated minority or woman recipient. In 2019, BCU committed to three loans. Two were minority/women recipients, and none were African-American. BCU received two inquiries by potential applicants who are African-American, but they did not apply.
From the Real Estate Improvement Fund, BCU awarded four grants. Three of those were minority/women recipients, and none were African-American. BCU received one inquiry by a potential applicant who is African-American, but they did not apply.