With many local entrepreneurs and small businesses across the country navigating the impacts of COVID-19, two Bay Area nonprofits – Pacific Community Ventures and Prospera – are working to advance economic empowerment and support underserved entrepreneurs by connecting them to the support and services they need to succeed.
Oakland-based Pacific Community Ventures (PCV), a Community Development Financial Institution, invests in small businesses that have been most excluded from the traditional financial system and most SBA programs. Through September 2021, 84% of PCV’s loan capital has gone to women and/or BIPOC-owned businesses, and 85% has gone to small businesses located in economically distressed neighborhoods.
Prospera, also located in Oakland, works with Latina immigrant women who strive to achieve economic prosperity through cooperative business ownership and leadership. Latina entrepreneurs are commonly excluded from mainstream business development opportunities due to language, class, or immigration status barriers, further hampering their ability to obtain the resources and capital they need.
Pacific Community Ventures and Prospera were named the 2021 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders® awardees for their work in the East Bay and Greater Bay Area communities. Each organization received a $200,000 grant over two years, comprehensive leadership training for the executive director and an emerging leader on topics ranging from increasing financial sustainability, human capital management, and strategic storytelling, joins a network of peer organizations across the U.S., and gets the opportunity to access capital to expand their impact.
“When the pandemic hit, we saw demand for our capital leap almost 10,000 percent, with loan inquiries totaling $172 million,” said Bulbul Gupta, Pacific Community Ventures President and Chief Executive Officer. "We’re thankful to be a Bank of America Neighborhood Builders partner.”
“Over our nearly 30-year history, we’ve developed an effective model to address the barriers to wealth and well-being faced by our community’s Latina immigrant women,” said Claudia Arroyo, Prospera’s executive director. “This wonderful opportunity through the Neighborhood Builders program allows Prospera to deepen and grow our programs while expanding our team.”
Support from Bank of America is helping these organizations take another step forward and continue to impact their community. Pacific Community Ventures is launching its new Oakland Restorative Loan Fund – $2.5 million in no-fee, zero-interest micro and small business loans. This fund will help combat gentrification and displacement and support business owners. Prospera is strengthening its core capacity to engage a minimum of 300 women in networking and education activities, to train 150 women with their initial course Explora, and provide technical assistance to 10-15 of the most advanced business founders in its incubation program.
“As communities continue to recover and navigate a changing landscape, nonprofits are still experiencing significant demands and are in need of resources to help meet critical local needs like supporting BIPOC and Latina entrepreneurs, creating jobs, and further extending leadership opportunities to all women,” said Gioia McCarthy, president, Bank of America San Francisco – East Bay. “Pacific Community Ventures and Prospera are helping bridge important gaps to help people chart a path toward economic opportunity and success. Programs like Neighborhood Builders help these organizations grow sustainably and strategically for greater positive impact in the community.”
Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders program is working to provide funding and leadership training to nonprofits building up underserved neighborhoods. Working with organizations like Pacific Community Ventures and Prospera, Bank of America is committed to providing resources to address community challenges.