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The capital entrepreneurs need to succeed

How this community lender helps small-business owners with the loans, technical assistance and financial counseling they might otherwise not get

Rigid scoring systems and strict lending requirements can leave some entrepreneurs on the sidelines. Pathway Capital Funding is hoping to change that in Palm Beach County, Florida. By bringing back the nurturing aspects of the community bank, Pathway Capital Funding will provide small, minority and women-owned businesses with loans, technical assistance and financial literacy training. Marlon White, a commercial banker for more than 40 years before becoming CEO of Pathway Capital Funding, knows firsthand how the financing needs of some small entrepreneurs can, as he puts it, “fall through the cracks.”

Sixty percent of Pathway’s lending will be in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in Palm Beach County, with an emphasis on women and minority-owned or controlled businesses (the other 40% can be anywhere else in the county). “You have people with a wealth of experience in their field, but they lack the necessary capital they need to set up a business and carry it for the two, three, four years while it incubates,” White says. “That’s where Pathway will come into play.”

Just as important as access to capital, Pathway will offer newer entrepreneurs educational resources before and after they receive start-up funding. Dozens of online training courses include subjects like financial statements and cash flow management. “We think we’ve come up with a unique way to get them bank-ready. The hope is that, within a few years, these businesses won’t need our services anymore,” says White.

Bank of America, as part of its $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, has provided the Palm Beach County Black Business Investment Corporation with funding to establish Pathway Capital Funding and cover initial administrative costs. “Bank of America has been a godsend to this organization,” says White. “This support for underserved entrepreneurs may have a ripple effect in the Palm Beach area,” White adds. “I hope that we’ll bring stability to these businesses and help them become profitable so they can create generational wealth in their communities.”