Supporting an Equitable Recovery
Community Vision’s Back in Business program is a business development strategy to support equitable recovery efforts by providing loans and grants to BIPOC-owned and led small businesses and nonprofits. The program blended together two sources of COVID-related funding: a $2 million grant from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund Program and $1.8 million grant from the CDFI Fund’s Rapid Response Program. We created this loan pool to support re-opening costs, pivoting operations, re-hiring, equipment purchase, debt consolidation, among other needs.
A critical part of our reparative approach is how we do our work, where the small details in our processes and systems add up to create an experience for the borrower. Our intention is that the people we work with feel acknowledged and supported, and that Community Vision is a financial and real estate ally.
The eligibility criteria and loan structure was informed by the needs and situations of borrowers and was designed to prioritize BIPOC-led small businesses with costs related to their brick and mortar locations.
The Back in Business loans differed from our standard loan offerings. For example, loans were offered at a flat interest rate of 2% compared to our regular 5.75%-6.75%, there was no fee towards the borrower, and no collateral required. To simplify the lending process for this program, we also shortened the application and credit memo, and created in-house templates for loan documentation. All of this saves borrowers time and money.
The Back in Business program awarded 11 small business grants to businesses like Noonie’s Place in Vallejo. Chef Ronda uses locally-sourced ingredients when possible, she hires locally and provides in-depth culinary training to all staff. Giving back to her community, Chef Ronda offers a free mobile pantry in the parking lot and grows vegetables to share with the community.