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EXPANDING BLACK BUSINESS CREDIT INITIATIVE CLOSES $29M FOR THE BLACK VISION FUND

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The Fund Will Increase the Pipeline of Funding for Black-owned Small Businesses 

The Expanding Black Business Credit network (EBBC) officially announced today the final close of its Black Vision Fund. The fund will lend long-term funds to six successful Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) with long histories of inclusive investing in order to expand their lending activity to small businesses in underserved communities. A primary goal is to reduce the racial wealth gap that plagues the Black community.

“The Black Vision Fund is the result of a network of Black-led/focused loan fund CEOs collaborating to create a fund that will demonstrate that there is a large market opportunity that has been neglected, which is the growing number of successful Black-owned small businesses in the country,” says Gary Cunningham, President and CEO of Prosperity Now.  Black Vision Fund’s CDFI network servicing a variety of markets across the country includes MEDA, Community First Fund, City First Broadway Bank, Black Business Investment Fund, Hope Enterprise Corporation/Credit Union, and National Community Investment Fund.

EBBC members are experienced Community Development Financial Institutions with more than $1.5 billion in combined total assets who currently help support entrepreneurs and small businesses in Pennsylvania, Maryland, District of Columbia, Minnesota, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and California.

The fund will be managed by LISC New Markets Support Company (NMSC), an affiliate of Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and benefits from an anchor contribution from EBBC made possible by a significant grant from Wells Fargo. Additional funding partners include Amalgamated Bank, Ceniarth, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and Opportunity Finance Network (OFN). All of these funders have contributed long-term, low-interest loan capital to the Black Vision Fund which will be on-lent to participating CDFIs.  The CDFIs, in turn, will provide financing to eligible small businesses operating in or benefiting disadvantaged communities, including Black-owned small businesses.

According to the U.S Federal Reserve, while Black-owned businesses were more likely to apply for bank financing, less than 47% of their applications were fully funded. The data found that Black-owned businesses were two times as likely to be turned down for loans as white business owners. Building on EBBC’s commitment to create thriving business ecosystems that strengthen Black-owned small businesses, Black-led nonprofits, and the Black-focused/led CDFIs that help them to succeed, the Black Vision Fund invests in CDFIs serving as a lending intermediary between funders and disadvantaged small businesses throughout the country. 

“Black-led and Black-focused financial institutions locate and invest in Black communities at much higher rates than white-owned financial institutions,” says Bill Bynum, CEO of Hope Credit Union in Jackson, Mississippi. “The CDFIs supported by the Black Vision Fund will provide vital capital that will accelerate the growth of Black-owned small businesses.” 

Greater investment in Black-led or Black-focused financial institutions and businesses would have an historic impact on the racial wealth gap and expanding access to credit for Black business owners. Financing Black businesses increases the net worth of families of owners, creates local jobs, provides needed local goods and services, and ultimately contributes to supporting economic growth in Black communities. 

To learn more about EBBC and Black Vision Fund, please visit ebbcfund.org About EBBC 

Expanding Black Business Credit (EBBC) was formed in 2016 as a CEO Peer Learning Network by leaders of Black-led/focused Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to share best practices in lending to Black businesses and prove that there is an attractive market of Black-owned businesses that can be financed by the financial services industry and thereby reduce persistent inequalities of wealth, income and opportunity in Black communities.

They created a report to prove the value of equalizing lending to Black-owned small businesses and developed the Black Vision Fund to execute on it.About Black Vision Fund 

The Black Vision Fund (BVF) approves and invests loans in EBBC member Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that will then provide financing specifically to Black-owned small businesses. It is a vehicle that helps corporate and philanthropic investors put their capital to work to address racial and socio-economic disparities, fueling CDFIs with long histories of inclusive investing and deep connections to the communities they serve.

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Increasing Financial Literacy is Critical in Black Wealth

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The nation’s 44 million African-Americans account for 13% of the U.S. population and significantly impact the economy, with $1.2 trillion in purchases annually. But the financial well-being of African-Americans lags behind the U.S. population and whites in particular. 

The reason for these gaps is increased financial literacy. According to the TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index, there is a strong link between financial literacy and financial wellness among African-Americans. The report examines the current state of financial literacy and financial wellness among African-American adults.

The P-Fin Index measures eight key areas of personal finance knowledge: earning, consuming, saving, investing, borrowing and managing debt, insuring, comprehending risk and uncertainty, and go-to information sources.

Personal finance knowledge among African-American adults lags behind that of whites. On average, African-Americans answered 38% of the index questions correctly, with only 28% answering over one-half of the index questions correctly. The comparable figures among whites were 55% and 62%, respectively.

Financial literacy varies across demographic groups within the Black population. The observed patterns are consistent with variations identified in the U.S. population—financial literacy is greater among men, older individuals, more formal education, and higher incomes.

Insurance is the area where personal finance knowledge is lowest among African-Americans. Other areas where knowledge lags are in comprehending risk, investing, and identifying go-to information sources.

Borrowing and debt management is the area of highest personal finance knowledge among Black Americans.

There is a strong link between financial literacy and financial wellness among African-Americans. Those who are more financially literate are more likely to plan and save for retirement, have non-retirement savings, and to manage their debt better; they are also less likely to be financially fragile.

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Saying Goodbye to Another Year and a Positive Future

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Looking back at 2022 gives me much promise. The future looks so bright I have to put on shades. Not only did we just celebrate our 12th edition of the Blackbook Yearbook & Directory last week, but I also look forward to celebrating 30 years of Avista Products in April. 

In the next 10 years, the San Antonio to Austin corridor is expected to generate over $40 billion in extra revenue from the manufacturing sector. That is an average of $4 billion per year. Those who move here or get hired will need to find a new place to live, worship, educate, eat, entertain, etc. I think you get the picture. For 2023 the city of San Antonio’s budget is $3.4 billion. Not bad! The business and the people are coming. I’m hoping the Black business community will also benefit from the growth.

Avista Products is heavily involved in technology, with our roots in graphic design. We have seen a lot of changes in the industry. From the beginning of HTML to the metaverse, the tech world has been exploding with Artificial intelligence or AI. This new technology (AI) has helped us produce graphics based on concepts we thought about. Storytelling is part of our culture. You can literally write the words to describe the image you want to create, and AI will create it for you. This week’s cover combines AI and manual input – possibly a perfect collaboration. Technology will definitely make our lives easier. 

In the famous words of Pastor TD Jakes, “Hold on, I’m not finished.” Recently, scientists have announced nuclear fusion stabilization. Of course, nuclear power is not news, but its waste and stability are a risk to the world that’s already experiencing extreme climate change. This new version does not produce a harmful by-product. It’s like announcing the internet is fully developed. It’s expected it won’t be mainstream for another 20 years, but for the wealthy, they will probably get it in five to 10 years. Can you imagine buying your energy once, passing it down to future generations, or buying gas for your car once? Scientists are also experimenting with computers and smartphones that are 100 times faster and smaller. I’m excited about what the future holds. 

Innovation is also coming from Avista Products and Black Life Texas. We are now in 78 locations citywide, including 41 HEB locations and select Jim’s Restaurants. Stay tuned as we increase our event coverage, stories, and culture-engaged commentary. We are proud to provide the San Antonio community with a product that understands the Black community, recognizes and honors its leaders, and is willing to objectively cover issues you likely won’t see in mainstream media. 

Thank you for being a reader. Happy New Year!

Carl Booker
Owner of Avista Products
Publisher – Black Life Texas and Blackbook Yearbook & Directory

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Online Tool Helps in Finding Grants and Tax Incentives

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Black-owned fintech and finance company Novae LLC announced the launch of a new online tool designed to help small businesses to find grants and tax incentives that can help them to grow exponentially.

Called Novae Grants, the new tool will allow users to search a database of thousands of financial assistance opportunities from both the government and the private sector. Tax credits that small businesses may qualify for will also be included in the database.

Novae founder Reco McCambry says that the grants his team is gathering for inclusion in the database range from $500 to $5 million in size, and are designed to help business owners serve their communities. The grants include town- and city-based grants to revitalize local businesses and create jobs, and federal and think tank grants to support renewable energy, tech, and innovation.

“The idea is to make it as easy as possible for small businesses to locate the support they need to grow,” McCambry says. “Whether you’re a mom and pop shop or a good-sized startup, you may be doing something that one of these agencies wants to promote for the sake of the public good.”

McCambry notes that most of the grants which have so far been located and placed in the Novae Grants database are intended for small businesses with 6-100 employees, though some are also intended for larger businesses and sole proprietor startups.

“We know that local businesses make us more secure,” McCambry told me in our interview, “and we know that innovation often comes from startups. There are a lot of organizations that recognize this and offer funding to support these missions. But not many people know how to find these grants, and many assume they won’t qualify because they aren’t in some specialized public service role. Our mission is to change that and bring this money into our communities.”

The Novae Grants search engine is now available at novaemoney.com. In addition to grants, Novae also helps companies build business credit, provides access to traditional business funding, and offers businesses the ability to provide consumer financing for their high-ticket offerings.

Novae and CEO McCambry’s mission to increase access to financing for businesses and customers in underserved communities has helped the company and its CEO to earn numerous awards and distinctions in recent years. Novae has been included on the Inc 5000 list of the 5000 fastest-growing businesses in America for two years running, while McCambry was recently named Innovator of the Year at the annual Bank Customer Experience Summit and received an Outstanding Leadership Award at Money2.0 this Spring.

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