Minority owned small businesses are struggling to stay open after the pandemic nearly wiped out their economic forecast. However, a Central Texas organization is stepping up to provide a funding opportunity.
Since 2004, the Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce has partnered with small businesses in McLennan County through education, advocacy and improving economic sustainability. But since the coronavirus pandemic, there's been one overall objective.
"We've been on this path, but COVID-19 especially encouraged us to go further to assist businesses because we knew they were in great need," said Rachel E. Pate, Vice President of Economic Development with the Chamber.
To fulfill the need, Pate says the Center of Business Excellence and the Chamber created the Cen-Tex Minority Business Equity fund that gives grants and microloans up to $2,500.
"We were able to pinpoint not only the equity fund as an important initiative, but also other opportunities to assist small businesses like with marketing, promotion and network and even being able to provide training," said Pate.
Components, says CEO and President of the Chamber John Bible, that are needed in helping assist African-American owned small businesses continue their operations.
"When city funding has dried up, federal funding programs are no longer in play. This becomes another avenue that businesses can take and be able to find more relief going forward, even post-COVID 19," said Bible.
An avenue, Bible believes, connects resources in the interest of the survival of the business community.
"To me that is something that has to happen in order for our community to continue to exist. Without our small businesses, which are the backbone of our community, our community doesn't look the same," he said.
Bible says they'll start receiving applications in June.
If you're an African American-owned small business and are interested in help, you can get more information online or call 254-235-3204.