The REAL People’s Fund (REAL) was created through a collaborative process over the last six years, and because of the dedication of many people, the fund will begin lending to small businesses in 2022. REAL– which stands for Revolutionizing our Economy for all Local People– directly addresses systemic failures that prevent entrepreneurs in Black communities, Indigenous communities, and communities of color from accessing the capital and resources their businesses need to thrive.
As an integrated capital fund founded and democratically governed by six grassroots community organizing groups, including Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Communities for a Better Environment, Oakland Rising, Restaurant Opportunities United of the Bay Area, and Restore Oakland, REAL is excited to be a model for a Just Transition in the Bay Area and beyond.
In April 2021, the fund held a soft launch with an online discussion about some of the ways they are co-creating restorative structures to move capital and resources to BIPOC businesses. For example, there is no credit score or collateral criteria included in the decision making process for loan financing. In addition, each loan is paired with advising services, a cohort of peers, and political education and advocacy opportunities.