Several years ago, Pascale Sykes Foundation established Thrive South Jersey, a fund managed by New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC), a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). The purpose was to provide loans to a rural area with dying cities, brain and entrepreneurial drains, and longtime businesses moving out of the area. The CDFI provided individual guidance, flexibility in its approach to borrower requirements, and non-conventional loans.

In Pascale Sykes Foundation's business development work, they noticed that small businesses that were ready to expand lacked basic business knowledge and had difficulties meeting loan requirements. They also kept hearing that small Black-owned businesses had difficulty qualifying for Thrive South Jersey loans. To fill the gap in financial training and coaching, they contacted NJCC, which referred the foundation to the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ), a statewide membership organization.

Pascale Sykes Foundation worked with the two agencies to develop an agreement to establish a Black business loan fund, backed by a $1 million grant from the foundation. NJCC would offer loans from $10,000 to $75,000 to Black-owned businesses with one to 10 employees.

The foundation has started with a soft opening — AACCNJ is coaching four Black-owned businesses located in New Jersey. The official opening is April 1, 2021; 20 businesses are on a waiting list. They will begin AACCNJ-led individualized coaching on or before that date.

Read the full article about Pascale Sykes Foundation's Black business loan fund by Fran Sykes at Exponent Philanthropy.