Q & A for Funders
What is the goal of the fund?
The goal is to provide business expansion grants to established Black-owned businesses in the Madison area in order to demonstrate the impact on Madison’s economy and on the well-being of Madison’s Black community.
What is the problem this fund is addressing?
As in the nation, there is a significant wealth gap between White and Black families living in Madison, the result of decades of systemic, institutionalized policies and practices of the past, from redlining and inequitable access to government loans and capital, to current day inequitable access to home loans and capital for business expansion. In addition, Black entrepreneurs typically do not have access to the social capital (personal networks and connections) that can lead to business growth and success.
What is the economic impact of investing in Black-owned businesses in a community?
It is widely accepted by economists that small business growth and formation is critical to increasing wealth in nations, regions and communities. In fact, many studies have shown that the most efficient way to increase wealth in a community is to support entrepreneurship.
The wealth created by small businesses is particularly important because it is a measure of a community’s economic resilience and dynamism… Without adequate wealth – and particularly intergenerational wealth – communities stagnate, economic prospects diminish and social ills proliferate.
What are the grant criteria?
The TWB fund provides expansion grants to Black-owned businesses in the Madison area that meet the following criteria:
- have been in business 3+ years
- well positioned to expand operations
- successful track record of sales with a strong customer base
- demonstrated creativity and resilience in maintaining operations during the pandemic
- plans for expansion should they have access to unencumbered grants
- interest in becoming a tenant of the Hub or in using the Hub’s services
How much was granted in the first round?
Five business owners each received $50K grants. In addition to funding, selected businesses have access to individualized business coaching and mentoring, business support resources, and a network of community contacts.
What has been the impact of the first round of funding?
- Syovata Edari, owner of CocoVaa, LLC, says,“The TWB grant enabled me to purchase ethical slave free chocolate in bulk from a producer in Ecuador. I was also able to purchase additional molds for making chocolate and packaging in bulk. By being able to purchase in bulk I’m able to not only increase my margins, but my overall productivity. The additional supplies enabled me to manufacture greater volume in a shorter time which ultimately contributes to long term sustainability.”
- Marie Justice, owner of Community Cleaners, used the grant to purchase new equipment, cleaning supplies, and uniforms, and also upgrade human resources software, all of which made processes easier for her team. She also received technical assistance from a coach to update the company’s website, which she felt was “extremely helpful.”
- Joseph Ndour, owner of Clarity Landscape & Gardens, used the grant to purchase a new truck and trailer, two snowblowers, and supplies. He also invested in some marketing and branding. As a result of the equipment purchases, he is now able to send out two crews at the same time, allowing the business to take on new clients and increase revenue to an all-time high. He commented, “Due to the growth we have experienced this year, with the TWB grant’s support, we are planning for the next level of growth.”
- Jeff Patterson, owner of JP Hair Design, used the grant to expand his business. He rented additional office space in the next building to his existing barber shop. The funds will help support building out the new units and allow for energy efficient fixtures. The added rental space is enabling him to support the growth of new business owners in the Barber/Cosmetology field. This is a key part of JP’s vision. JP is also mentoring Joseph Ndour, which has been a rewarding experience for both of them.
- Awa Sibi, owner of Les délices de Awa, used the grant for marketing, personnel, supplies, and a newly refurbished food cart. She is looking for space to open a restaurant with a commercial kitchen that can support her highly successful catering business. She has appreciated support from her mentor who “most importantly tells me not to give up.”
What was the process for the first round of grants?
Applicants were invited to submit an initial application of interest, describing their business, number of years in business, their customers and market, plans for growth, and their current financial situation (cash on hand, loans, etc.). 20 applicants were selected from the initial pool of 41, and these owners were invited to submit more information, including specifically how they would use a grant and interest in coaching/mentoring. From this pool, eight finalists were interviewed in person and five grantees were then selected.
Who is on the TWB Advisory Team?
– First round: Ed Lee (Urban League), Camille Carter (Madison Black Chamber of Commerce), Alnysa Allgood (Collaboration for Good), Nichole Crust (gener8tor), Mike Miller (City of Madison), Nick Mischler, Jan O’Neill.
– Current: Ed Lee, Camille Carter, Nichole Crust, Nick Mischler, Salli Martiniak, Jan O’Neill, Vanessa Ineza (program consultant/coordinator)