WACO, TX — Starting a small business and then making it successful can be a challenge and for minority business owners they can sometimes face additional hurdles.
According to a study 30% of U.S. business are minority owned and 75% of minority businesses rely on their personal savings for initial funding when starting their own business. The Department of Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency says this is because businesses of color are less likely to get loans than white business owners.
With an added pandemic owning a business became more challenging and so the Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce created the Cen-Tex Minority Business Equity Fund. A fund that is administered by the Center of Business Excellence, a private sector 501(c)(3) charity affiliated with the chamber.
The fund was created to help businesses of color within McLennan County make ends meet during a pandemic.
"What we see just as reckoning in our whole country for systemic injustice and racism and things that have been barriers that have been overlooked we're trying to address those barriers," Vice president of the Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce, Rachel E. Pate said.
Aniceto Charles Jr. is a business owner in Waco and runs the Tru Jamaica restaurant just outside of downtown Waco. Owning a business as a Black man is an accomplishment he hopes to continue through his years of work.
"We're in the East side and predominantly the East side is of African American decent, and I want to stay true and be able to represent the African American culture," Charles Jr. said.
He received money from the Equity fund and used it for some much needed maintenance he otherwise wouldn't have been able to get fixed.
"Well obviously we needed some extra cash. Our air condition has been on its last leg for like 6 or 7 months," Charles Jr. said.
The chamber is making sure our minority owned business also feel the love and support in a pandemic. They have raised $70,000 toward a $100,000 goal, you can still donate to.
"Our part in helping businesses receive equitable help is just one small piece in what everyone is doing to make sure we are all living together in harmony and prospering together," Pate said.
Helping 11 business so far with the grant funding, post pandemic they hope to use that same fund for micro-loans which would need to be paid back by the employer.
"You have to have a segway into accessing financial capital between building relationships between larger lending entities and that's one of the things the fund will do," Pate said.
As Waco continues to grow, it's important to support local. Charles Jr. is proud to own a business in a city he knows cares about him and hope many more follow.
"We all see that Waco is growing and will continue to grow but we need all the smaller businesses not the bigger chains to plant their seeds and get all the assistance that they can get," Charles Jr. said.
It's all about supporting businesses established and new. Charles Jr. even allows one Black owned woman business to set up shop in her store.
Tiffany Scott has started an all natural hair and body care business that's called Urban Rootz. She's always wanted to start her own business but of course was nervous to do so in a pandemic. With Charles Jr.'s help she is able to get her name out there.
"Watching them also gave me like, hey I can do this, he's been helping me the whole way and I truly appreciate it," Scott said.