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The resurgence in Florida’s Black-owned enterprise

This community lender is helping preserve decades of entrepreneurship

Florida is the third-largest state for Black-owned businesses in the country, following New York and Georgia. But this wasn’t always the case. In the 1980s, economic disenfranchisement of the Black community, among other factors, contributed to racial unrest in Miami and satellite communities. The resulting social justice movement brought attention to large economic gaps that nonprofit groups such as the Black Business Investment Fund of Florida (BBIF) committed to address. “Focusing on the needs of Black entrepreneurs, and why those needs exist, has allowed us not only to help spur Black business ownership,” says Inez Long, the Chief Executive Officer of BBIF, ”it has also helped grow a culture and community of Black entrepreneurship.” The BBIF is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with a mission to serve low- and moderate-income communities through business lending and training.

In the above video, Long talks about the state of Black businesses in Florida and what coronavirus-related challenges they’re facing. “The businesses we serve don’t have a lot of resources,” she notes. “It’s not the case that they can ride this out for a year.” In the state, as across the country, Black-owned businesses have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus. Between February and April 2020, the number of Black business owners in the U.S. declined by 41%, compared to a 17% drop among white business owners.footnote1

With the help of a $250,000 grant from Bank of America, BBIF has moved the entirety of its operations online, including lending, developing business plans, one-on-one coaching, group mentoring and more. The organization is also delivering necessary funding to its clients—in just two months, BBIF provided nearly 300 loans through the SBA’s Payment Protection Program (PPP), helping businesses ranging from childcare centers to information technology firms to local landscapers.

During 33-years of operation, BBIF has distributed nearly $50 million in loans, creating nearly 13,000 jobs. Keeping these businesses going is critical not just to Florida’s Black business community, Long says, but for the country as a whole. “Small businesses create the majority of the jobs in our communities. It’s critical for CDFIs to be able to continue to help small businesses survive, especially when faced with something like the coronavirus.”

Learn more about how Bank of America is working alongside community lenders like Inez Long and the BBIF to help support small businesses through the current health crisis—and to drive economic and career opportunities in African American and Latino/Hispanic communities across the country.

Originally published 11/06/2020