Rende Progress Capital has launched another component of its mission to help isolated color entrepreneurs get the funding they need for their business.
On June 24, RPC, based in Grand Rapids, launched a nine-week pilot course called the Loan Prep and Incubator Program with support from the Fifth Third Bank and the US Treasury Development Financial Institutions Fund.
John Hendershot, director of business development for RPC, helped the company build and structure the program and teach courses.
“We’re going to focus on a lot of things that aren’t necessarily touched by other nonprofits, but that are just as important as marketing and promotion,” Hendershot said. “We are more focused on the financial aspect to provide a solid foundation for the business, make sure they have the right licenses, they can read P&L statements, use accounting software and the like, because we believe it is the necessary principles to have a strong loan application and a strong business. “
Thirteen colored business owners who were unable to obtain loans from traditional lenders will participate in the first cohort to receive a registration fee of $ 50. If participants complete the full program, they will receive a financial reward of $ 1,000 each.
According to Eric Foster, co-founder, chairman and managing director of RPC, the program is designed to:
- An introduction to RPC for excluded color entrepreneurs.
- Teaching them how to prepare loans.
- Advice on financial principles as part of the RPC loan application process.
- Completion of business planning simulations and mock loan applications for review and feedback to prepare participants for the future RPC loan application process.
RPC’s goal since its founding in 2018 has been to respond with innovation to the lending barriers that have excluded colored-faced entrepreneurs, both capital and non-capital, Foster said. The Pre-Loan Preparedness and Incubator Program was designed to:
- Provide a deep, interactive resource reward program to provide excluded color entrepreneurs with additional knowledge beyond the standard technical assistance that RPC offers.
- Eliminate opportunities and information barriers that excluded entrepreneurs face in loan application procedures due to the inability to apply for conventional loans or interaction with lenders. (Nearly 90% of RPC loan clients have never received a small business loan before.)
Foster said the loan readiness program was envisioned four or five years ago during his pre-start research phase, when he listened to focus groups and individual excluded entrepreneurs of color who shared “their narratives and frustrations with bias and market barriers to access. ordinary loans ”.
“This aspect of what we do is directly related to the experience they shared,” Foster said. “… At the time, I focused on the fact that in fact, the denial rate for non-color companies is three times higher, 42%, compared to their white counterparts at 16%, according to the US Department of Commerce Business Development. minorities. The agency was based not only on a clear bias, but also on the fact that a colored business, like any other business, cannot be fully prepared for loan readiness, if it did not even have the opportunity and a chance to go through the basic steps and information that it would be possible to inquire about whether they received a loan or not.
“And this is where we realize that there is an information gap – colored enterprises are equipped with everything they need and bring intelligence to their products, goods or services. They are not aware of the details of the loan due to pathology, but rather, some of them do not know the full picture due to the lack of an easy opportunity to apply for a loan, which then creates information barriers in the same way as (it does) barriers to capital. … Our challenge is to eliminate both, and we are pleased to do so, which is a symbol of another thing we are proposing that has arisen as a result of direct, genuine participation in the struggle (and) frustration of excluded entrepreneurs of color. ”
Hendershot said he was grateful for the opportunity to participate in this process.
“I’m just grateful to Eric for having a vision and for being one of the people who can help with that vision,” he said.
Foster said the goal is to launch a pilot and evaluate the results at the end and hopefully turn it into a permanent proposal.
The first 13 participants are as follows:
- Dr. Lisa Marie Barnes, Believers Home Care LLC is an African American, female business owner.
- Krishna B. Bista, translator Krishna B. Bista – Asian male, business owner
- Sara Brandt, Aunt’s House – Native American, Women’s Organization
- Arik Davis, Last Mile Cafe, is an African American male business owner.
- Emmanuel Esparza, E&E Lawn & Snow Services – Hispanic male, business owner
- Salia Georgette, Western Michigan Home Care – Female Asian American Participant
- Tiffany Gray, Tax by Tiffany – African American, business owner.
- Edgar Guerrero, Casa Pintura – Hispanic Male Business Partner / Employee
- Ange Cramo, Shiloh Assets Management – African American Male, Business Owner
- Paul K. Mendes-Jimenez, Mendez Carpeting – Hispanic male, business owner
- Jodi Ricks Salmoran, Casa Pintura – Hispanic Woman, Business Partner / Employee
- Juan Salmoran, Casa Pintura – Hispanic Male Business Partner
- Christopher Simmons, StudioHenre LLC – African American Male Business Owner
RPC has engaged the Western Michigan Latin American Center to provide Spanish translators for this course.
Foster said that after the first week of the program, attendees were so excited about what they learned and the potential the course would open up that they surrounded Hendershot in the RPC parking lot to ask more questions and share their feedback.
“When you talk about bridging the racial wealth gap, it is both challenging and interesting when you have team members who, before you quantify how we are doing to bridge the racial wealth gap through lending, ( we) have people who are so excited that social capital, as John says, or the information gap, in terms of racial equality, is shrinking, and how mostly colored entrepreneurs and people like John are so excited about the possibility that they will never did not represent before. That’s what moved me, ”Foster said.
Davis, owner of Last Mile Café, a coffee start-up “committed to revolutionizing people’s expectations,” said he is grateful for the opportunity to join the Pre-Loan Readiness program.
“I’ve been working in the RPC ecosystem since I returned to Grand Rapids and waited for the opportunity that made sense to raise capital through a fund,” he said. “As part of the Last Mile project, we intend to open a coffee / retail store early next year, and also plan to expand our offerings to customers and retail partners.
“The RPC Credit Incubator Program was a clear step that helped us prepare for the loan process and ensure we had everything. As an aspiring entrepreneur, there is a lot to learn and it is easy to find snippets of information here and there. John and his team have done an exceptional job with other informational series and I expect this program to be even better. While this is so. At the end of the program, Last Mile Cafe will be ready to seek funding to take our business to the next level. “
Those who may be interested in participating in a potential second cohort after the pilot phase of the program can contact Hendershot at firstname.lastname@example.org or Foster at email@example.com.