North Miami Beach, Fla. The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox once sang “Sistas are doin’ it for themselves” and that mantra still rings true. The Community Fund of North Miami (CFNMD) is a prime example of an institution designed to partner with Black women doing big things for themselves and the neighborhoods for which they provide services.
The Community Fund of North Miami (cfnmd.org/bblp) is a subsidiary of the Opa-Locka Community Development Corporation, a ﬁnancial institution that utilizes “resources derived from the public and private sectors to assist the poor, distressed and underprivileged through a program of lending and investing in housing, real estate development projects, small/micro businesses and other commercial enterprises.”
The CFNMD is certiﬁed by the U.S. Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Elizabeth Burrows, external affairs director of the Opa-Locka Community Development Corporation, said that the CFNMD’s “mission is to create wealth building opportunities.” Designed to speciﬁcally target minority-owned businesses, the CFNMD procures assistance that promotes and supports minority business owners to meet the challenges of business wellness and sustainability.
According to the 2018 Annual Business Survey, 19% of all employerbased businesses were led by women, and of that number, 36% were owned by Black women. Black women “have the highest percentage of business ownership” in the Black entrepreneur category. A reason why is because Black women are the most educated as a group, consisting of more than 50% of the total of post-secondary degree holders among Black Americans.
Higher education, however, does not translate to employment, equal pay, or racial equality in the workplace. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “the number of Black women employed as full-time minimum-wage workers is higher than that of any other racial group.” Despite a post-secondary degree, Black women are the most likely to be employed in “low wage” earning occupations such as the “service industry, healthcare, and education.”
The inequities are what motivated Black women-owned business growth rates exceeding 50% between the years of 2014 and 2019, the highest for “any female demographic.”
Of course, Black women-owned businesses face unique challenges in building from the ground up and continuing the course.
Sherronda Daye, owner of Sweet Jalene’s & Company and founder of Defense Tea (defensetea.com), in North Miami-Dade, and client of CFNMD, conﬁded during a media teleconference that businesses owned by Black women “are the least funded,” and “that some of the things that are in place for other businesses are not out there for us.”
It is very difﬁcult for Black women to receive the kind of ﬁnancial attention and resources that their White and minority counterparts are exposed to. Black women come up against racial disparities and roadblocks, that prevent their businesses from flourishing within the ﬁrst ﬁve years. Banks, credit unions and other ﬁnancial institutions create barriers that place capital and loans practically out of the reach of Black women entrepreneurs, which can cripple and eventually starve a business before it is mature.
EASY LOAN PROCESS
The $670 billion PPE loan that was issued by the Trump Administration in 2020 was meant to aid small businesses that were in ﬁnancial crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But “very little” of the funds reached Black business owners reported Forbes recently. That means even less was afforded to Black women-owned businesses. Having an institution such as CFNMD in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami Dade Counties is a beacon of support for Black entrepreneurs and Black women.
Marcela Ilinas, business development training and marketing specialist, explained that CFNMD “offers affordable capital for businesses to grow.” With an easy loan application process and low interest rates upon approval for those who need capital (loans starting from $10,000 to $100,000), CFNMD removes the hurdles and speed bumps that come with doing business with traditional ﬁnancial institutions, helping Black-owned businesses to expand.
“Our goal is not to sell the loan,” Ilinas said, “but to really provide the resources and the knowledge and the experts in the right context in order for businesses to be successful.”
SERVING UNDERSERVED CFNMD wants Black-owned businesses to succeed and provides the tools necessary for entrepreneurs to create flourishing businesses that give back to the neighborhoods in which they serve. Desiree Nugent, owner of Healing Hands Medical Center (healinghandsmedicalcenters.com), and another client of CFNMD, acknowledged that was her desire in starting a business in the neighborhood in which she grew up, Miami Gardens. “It has always been my goal to serve the underserved,” said Nugent, “so it was important for me to give back to the city of Miami Gardens.”
The CFNMD is dedicated to working with Black-owned businesses, making sure that these businesses have access to funds and resources such as wealth building opportunities, workshops, seminars, and technical classes. Everything that a Black-owned business could need, the CFNMD was established to provide. The pandemic has created a vacuum that has sucked in many Black-owned businesses. But with resilience and tenacity, Black women-led businesses can continue to be productive. Nugent echoed that sentiment. “Stay focused. Keep an open mind. Research avenues for help,” she advised, “and communicate with other business owners.” firstname.lastname@example.org