Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League.
By ANN MARIE SORRELL
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – On November 28, 2017, Morgan Stanley, National Urban League Urban Empowerment Fund (NULUEF), National Development Council (NDC), and the Urban League of Broward County (ULBC) will launch a historic initiative to provide minority owned businesses in Florida with greater access to capital through the Capital Access Fund (CAF) – a lending initiative which provides access to capital and business education for minority entrepreneurs. Through the partnership, CAF and the ULBC’s Entrepreneurship Center will expand its efforts to promote sustainability, create jobs and build community wealth in Florida.
“Minority-owned businesses are the fastest growing segment of small businesses in this country and yet they face many challenges access to capital being one of them. The National Urban League will expand the national partnership with Morgan Stanley and The National Development Council by bringing The Capital Access Fund to Florida,” said Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League. “Vibrant and expanding minority-owned businesses are vital to the future economic growth of this country and The National Urban League will continue to provide both policy and programmatic leadership to ensure this important segment of our business community is not overlooked.”
“The potential of Minority Business Enterprises will only be fully realized when scalable solutions are developed to address the access to capital challenge which many of these businesses face. I am excited about the expansion of the Capital Access Fund into Florida as it takes it one step closer to becoming one such solution,” said Don Bowen, president and CEO, National Urban League’s Urban Empowerment Fund.
CAF launched in Cleveland in December 2016 as a three-year, $8 million program that provides minority business owners with access to capital as well as pre and post-loan counseling to ensure the success of its borrowers. With a goal to create or maintain 300 jobs within three years, to date, CAF has provided 16 loans totaling $2.5 million which will create over 158 jobs and retain over 197 jobs in the Greater Cleveland community. The CAF partners are excited and look forward to a successful expansion to Florida.
“We are thrilled to partner once again with the National Urban League, National Development Council and local partners to provide minority owned businesses in Florida with greater access to capital through the Capital Access Fund,” said Carla A. Harris, vice chairman, Global Wealth Management, and head of the Multicultural Client Strategy Group, Morgan Stanley. “By providing an initial $2 million in start-up capital, we are proud to have an impact on the economic growth in this community by offering the entrepreneurs who build community wealth with the capital and support services necessary to not only survive, but thrive.”
“Entrepreneurs build up the communities they serve, and we are excited to once again accelerate their impact with CAF,” said Alice Vilma, executive director of Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Client Strategy Group. “As leaders in job creation and retention, CAF ensures these entrepreneurs have access to the best national resources with a local focus.”
To launch CAF Florida, the Urban League of Broward County will host the M3 Business Summit: Money, Markets & Management. The Summit will be held at the Urban League of Broward County’s Community Empowerment Center in Fort Lauderdale (560 NW 27 Ave. in Fort Lauderdale) and will serve as an engaging forum of panel discussions and presentations focused on solutions to assist minority owned businesses with issues faced in today’s business climate. The goal of the M3 Business Summit is to give minority small business owners the resources needed – technical assistance, market exposure, and capital funding – to grow and develop their businesses.
The Urban League of Broward County entered into an agreement with the State of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to establish, administer and market a loan guarantee program to stimulate access to credit for minority small business owners. As part of the agreement, the Urban League sought investors to raise private, non-state capital to achieve a required four-to-one match for funds provided by the DEO.
The CAF Florida joins initial investors BankUnited and Florida Community Bank in helping ULBC to satisfy the match requirement. “Small businesses provide economic growth to our community,” said Germaine Smith-Baugh, Ed.D., president and CEO of Urban League of Broward County. “The Capital Access Fund partnership means greater opportunity for individuals seeking employment, for families seeking economic empowerment and businesses seeking financial success.”
Featured guests and speakers include Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League; Carla Harris, vice chairman of Morgan Stanley; Bob Davenport of the National Development Council; Nancy Allen, CEO of the Women’s Business Development Council of Florida; Beatrice Louissant, CEO of the Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council; along with state and local officials. The day will begin with opening remarks from CAF partners and will address perspectives on bridging the gaps to capital and networks for underrepresented minority and women entrepreneurs. In addition, the Summit will cover topics that include attracting investment capital and critical elements for a successful small business.
“This is a unique financing program,” said Bob Davenport, NDC Board Member “The Capital Access Fund in Florida fills a gap that leaves many minority owned businesses struggling to expand. The CAF provides both financing tools and technical guidance so that small businesses can grow and thrive. We look forward to participating in the M3 Business Summit and to launch this unique financing program in Florida.”