JPMorgan Chase is doubling the size of its global Small Business Forward program, it announced today, by committing $75 million over the next three years to support women, minority and veteran-owned small businesses. This includes a $1.9 million grant to the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) to support its programs to connect small business owners with alternative funding sources when they are unable to qualify for traditional loans.
Small businesses are growing fastest among people of color, particularly Latinas and African American women. Yet, despite their importance to the economy, research shows minority-owned businesses rely significantly more on investments of personal or family wealth than on outside debt or equity.1 Exacerbating this challenge, only 16 percent of conventional small-business loans go to women entrepreneurs2, and despite the higher startup rate for African-American owned businesses, these businesses received less than two percent of SBA loans in 2013.
“Recent research from ICIC shows small businesses are more likely to hire from distressed neighborhoods where unemployment is high, reinforcing that small businesses are critical for employment,” said Janis Bowdler, Head of Small Business Initiatives, Global Philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase. “Increasing access to capital to underrepresented small businesses is vital to economic growth and the communities they serve. Small Business Forward will support a wide, diverse base of entrepreneurs so that economic growth is shared by all.”
“Supporting the success of small businesses unable to qualify for traditional capital is not only good for the economic health of the community, but it’s also good business,” said Jenn Piepszak, CEO, Business Banking, Chase. “Over the past several years, Chase has referred hundreds of small businesses to our trusted CDFI partners and we’re pleased that many come back to Chase for a small business loan when the time is right.”
Small Business Forward is a global initiative developed by JPMorgan Chase to support small businesses with the potential to grow, offer quality employment, and create economic opportunity for vulnerable populations and their communities by:
Facilitating access to flexible capital. JPMorgan Chase is awarding AEO a $1.9 million grant to support the advancement of AEO’s technology-enabled platform that connects small businesses with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) when they are unable to qualify for traditional loans. CDFIs provide small business loans and other resources to help owners get a business off the ground, repair their credit history, or support a hard to serve industry.
“We are pleased to receive this grant from JPMorgan Chase and look forward to advancing our work to make it faster and easier for small businesses to connect with local CDFI partners devoted to providing targeted capital and trusted guidance,” said Connie Evans, President and CEO, Association for Enterprise Opportunity. “This supports our vision to change the way capital and services flow to Main Street.”
JPMorgan Chase has also extended its collaboration with nonprofit lender LiftFund through a $4.6 million grant for its new LiftUP Initiative – designed to increase economic opportunity for diverse small businesses in Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, New Orleans and Atlanta. The loan fund will offer faster, cheaper loans to small business owners through a new web-based program, which will reduce loan approval time from an average of 5 weeks to 4 days.
“For a small business owner, quicker access to capital remains one of the top concerns and I’m excited to announce that we have developed a program in response to this need,” said Janie Barrera, LiftFund President and CEO. “With JPMorgan Chase’s support, LiftFund will address an enormous barrier for underserved small businesses and, in turn, increase the potential for these businesses to grow, offer employment and generate more economic opportunity in our communities.”
Seeding innovative new funds with trusted CDFI partners that support underrepresented businesses.. This builds on the firm’s work to increase access to capital for minority-owned small businesses in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Detroit (markets with the highest number of minority-owned small businesses) by taking the lessons learned and replicating these programs in other markets. JPMorgan Chase provided a total of $8 million in seed and capital grants to help launch the National African American Small Business Loan Fund with VEDC along with $3.5 million for the creation of the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund with Detroit Development Fund, which both provide flexible capital and dedicated technical assistance to diverse entrepreneurs. In their first six months the two funds have provided more than $3.7 million in loans to 35 business owners, helping to preserve or create 213 jobs.
“Community Reinvestment Fund, USA is committed to strengthening distressed communities by extending access to capital to entrepreneurs who can help drive inclusive economic growth,” said Frank Altman, President and CEO, Community Reinvestment Fund, USA. “We are proud to partner with JPMorgan Chase as they level the economic playing field for underserved small businesses and, in turn, improve the lives of low-wealth people through new and preserved jobs.”
Extending entrepreneurial support systems to underserved entrepreneurs and neighborhoods. The tools and resources that are making high-growth companies successful are not always available to main street businesses in underserved neighborhoods. With a $500,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase, the University of Washington Foster School of Business’ Ascend 2020 will promote local support ecosystems for neighborhood-based businesses inner-city and minority-owned businesses in Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle by linking business schools, business service-providing organizations and CDFIs.
Expanding opportunities for diverse, women, and veteran founders within high-growth sectors. Entrepreneurs of color, immigrants, women, and veterans consistently have difficulty accessing the resources needed to start and grow businesses especially in high-growth sectors such as tech, health, and bioscience. Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation in New Orleans has a targeted strategy for engaging and supporting underserved entrepreneurs through its successful incubator model. Its water cluster provides the tools and resources necessary to bring market-based solutions to improve urban water quality, water retention and restoration of coastal, wetland and marshland environments.
“Small business clusters provide the support and resources that social enterprises require to be successful and make an impact,” said Andrea Chen, CEO of Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation. “We’re pleased to see JPMorgan Chase’s expanded commitment to growing the cluster model and impact by providing critical assistance to underserved small businesses that can really move the needle in their communities.”