In 2018, only 2.2% of venture capital dollars went to women founders and of that, Black women founders received the least at .0006%, even though the number of Black women founded startups has more than doubled since 2016. There are deeply embedded, systemic reasons why that capital is not meeting Black women entrepreneurs and Denver-based Sistahbiz Global Network, a nonprofit business accelerator serving Black women entrepreneurs, is changing that. 

THE CHALLENGE

Sistahbiz provides affordable options for coaching, training and services to help Black women grow, succeed and play big in business, but despite having investment-ready businesses at graduation, many Sistahbiz clients are denied small business loans or venture capital funding due to deeply embedded systemic bias and barriers to accessing capital. This issue isn't specific to Colorado - research shows that nationally, for African American female founders, the racial and gender wealth gap, in addition to negative bias and a lack of access to networks, creates significant barriers to funding. 

THE OPPORTUNITY

Recognizing that until financial systems are able to identify, address and eradicate biases against Black women, Sistahbiz clients need to be able to circumnavigate traditional financial systems to get access to capital to build their businesses. So Sistahbiz created the Sistahbiz Loan Fund, which provides loans to Black women entrepreneurs at reasonable rates and terms.  Sistahbiz partnered with CEDS Finance to operate the Sistahbiz Loan Fund. CEDS Finance's mission is to support the American dream of financial self-sufficiency by assisting refugees, immigrants, and those from underserved communities in metro Denver who desire to own or strengthen businesses, develop assets, and empower themselves financially. 

AJL issued a low-interest loan of $100,000 at 2% interest over 8 years to seed the Sistahbiz Loan Fund. AJL also issued a $20,000 general operating support grant each to Sistahbiz and CEDS Finance.

THE IMPACT

  • Black women entrepreneurs in Colorado have access to small business loans ranging from $500 to $50,000 at 7% - 12% interest over 5 years.
  • The launch of the first small business loan fund dedicated to Black women entrepreneurs in the nation.
  • AJL's contribution, plus a match from CEDS Finance, total a first commitment of $250,000 with the goal to reach $1M in year 1. 
  • An opportunity to raise awareness and directly address systemic bias and barriers in our financial systems both nationally and locally in Colorado. 
  • AJL will receive the principal of the loan back plus 2% interest over 8 years and will cycle the funds back out into the community. Had AJL simply made a grant in the amount of $100,000 it would be a 100% negative return with no additional funds to put toward AJL’s mission.

To learn more, you can read this article in the Denver Business Journal or Bronze magazine, or listen to this podcast on Girl Behind the Hustle. To donate or invest in the Sistahbiz Loan Fund, click here, or email team@sistah.biz.