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With a mission to support racially diverse small businesses, Truist Foundation worked with Black Business Investment Fund on a grant program to support Black-owned businesses impacted by the pandemic.
Like many Black-owned business owners during the pandemic, Phylisa Dever, CEO of Kingdom Communications LLC, was unsure how long she would be able to retain her staff. Kingdom Communications LLC is a Black-owned business that has been providing data communications and surveillance installation services for 15 years. Due to the pandemic, operating costs were increasing, and Dever didn’t know how long she could keep making payroll.
Dever reached out to Black Business Investment Fund, Inc. (BBIF) for assistance.
Established in 1987, BBIF is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) built to foster the creation and expansion of Black businesses by providing loans, education, and training services. For Dever, it meant working with BBIF to acquire a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan to support business longevity and employee retention.
Phylisa Dever is the CEO of Kingdom Communications LLC, a Black-owned business that faced the impacts of the pandemic.
“We got our Paycheck Protection Program loan through BBIF, which helped me because I’ve been able to pay my employees every week since the pandemic started and that came right at a time when I needed it most. Thanks to BBIF, I didn’t have to miss a pay date.”
According to federal data, minority-owned businesses were rejected or unable to access the first round of loans at a significantly higher rate than white owned business. Without CDFIs, these minority-owned businesses would not have been able to receive the support they needed.
“BBIF helps to close the racial wealth gap for Black businesses,” said Danielle St. Luce, Director of Development at BBIF.
“We focus on Black businesses and aggressively go after dollars that we can put into Black communities to support Black entrepreneurs, businesses, workforce and community development and to stop gentrification.”
BBIF was able to quickly provide help because of a grant it received from the Truist Foundation.
With a mission to strengthen small businesses, Truist Foundation gave BBIF – a long standing partner - a $1.5 million grant to create a COVID-19 small business grant program for existing BBIF clients.
“As a CDFI, we have to raise debt and capital dollars in order to provide funding to our clients” said Jasmine Gebon, VP Strategic Initiatives at BBIF. “It is really meaningful to have the Truist Foundation, a longtime partner, understand the intricate challenges of the work we do and provide an equity injection that allows for us to impact more Black, minority and underserved small businesses in our region.”
The new BBIF program directly allocates funds to its small and micro business clients most impacted by the pandemic.
BBIF has also been able to use the Truist Foundation grant to expand its technical assistance arm, which trains small business owners to develop skills in software, technology, and business operations. The expansion will allow the program to offer a webinar series to new business owners that brings them expertise and advice from established consultants.
“We’re excited to embrace this partnership that supports such an impactful CDFI,” said Lynette Bell, President of Truist Foundation. “BBIF shares our vision to support underserved communities and provide a sustainable source of funding for racially and ethnically diverse and women-owned businesses that haven't had access to the traditional lending market in the past.”
“A lot of our clients are in the service industry and were severely impacted by lockdowns,” St. Luce said. “We knew they wouldn't be able to pay back a loan and needed a grant, so we built a COVID-specific grant that would help small business owners pay for rent, utilities, staff needs and personal protective equipment (PPE).”
Truist Foundation and BBIF’s partnership has existed since the founding of BBIF.
“SunTrust now Truist has been a committed partner since BBIF’s inception in 1987,” said Inez Long, President/CEO of BBIF. “This grant demonstrates the bank’s continued commitment to invest and support the growth and sustainability of Black businesses. I value and applaud Truist’s leadership, and I look forward to our continued partnership and collaborative work to make equitable investments into the African American community.”
Truist also sits on BBIF’s Community Development Committee, which has allowed BBIF to stay on track and on mission.
“I am the staff liaison to one of the boards for our Community Development Committee, and our Truist partners that are on those boards play a crucial role in our new initiatives,” said Rhema Nnadi, Director of Marketing at BBIF. “For example, we have a webinar series that we're in the process of producing, so Truist will come on as a subject matter expert around financial literacy, which will be broadcasted directly to underserved minority communities.”
The relationship with Truist Foundation has helped BBIF expand its impact throughout the state of Florida.
“Truist Foundation has been instrumental to our growth and, consequently, instrumental to the impacts we've had in the community in the state of Florida,” said Nnadi. “Truist Foundation and BBIF will continue to work together to get capital into the hands of Black business owners.”
Truist Foundation aims to build career pathways to economic mobility, which is why we’re proud to support organizations that provide employment opportunities for low-income individuals. Click here for more stories about the work we’re doing.
About Truist Foundation
The Truist Foundation is committed to Truist Financial Corporation’s (NYSE: TFC) purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities. Established in 2020, the foundation makes strategic investments in nonprofit organizations to help ensure the communities it serves have more opportunities for a better quality of life. The Truist Foundation’s grants and activities focus on leadership development, economic mobility, thriving communities and educational equity.