As some Black-owned businesses struggle to recover from the pandemic, the National Urban League and the US Small Business Administration have formed a partnership designed to connect underserved small businesses to the programs and resources they need to prosper.
The National Urban League has been chosen to serve as a “hub” within the SBA’s Community Navigator program – a US bailout initiative designed to reduce the barriers underserved entrepreneurs face when trying to access programs needed to recover from economic crises or simply to start and grow their business.
The program provides $100 million in funding to 51 hubs to work with “spokesperson” community groups to improve access to government resources. The National Urban League is receiving $5 million from this initiative.
“We are thrilled that the National Urban League is one of many grantees across the country implementing this hub and spoke model with the national approach and local partners to be able to reach small business owners on the ground. that fuel our economy,” Administrator Isabella Casilla Guzman, head of the SBA, said at a press conference Monday to highlight the partnership.
“Through the local National Urban League network, they design programs that will make a difference – that will help businesses develop strategic plans and they can ensure businesses are positioned for financial success.”
“Ultimately, it’s about creating jobs and creating opportunities for more businesses and families so that we can continue to create wealth and strengthen our global competitiveness more broadly,” he said. – she continued.
Guzman traveled to Philadelphia to celebrate minority-owned small businesses during Black History Month.
A total of 25 Urban League affiliates will serve as “spokespersons” in the Navigator program, providing technical assistance and providing resources to businesses, through direct contacts and existing partnerships with other local organizations that offer services for minorities and low- and middle-income women. – owned companies. The spokes are organized into five regions, with an affiliate serving as the primary spokesperson for each region.
In addition to the Philadelphia Urban League, other affiliates serving as primary spokespersons are the Greater Atlanta Urban League, Chicago Urban League, Los Angeles Urban League, and Houston Area Urban League.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been catastrophic for Black-owned businesses on many levels, and an equitable recovery requires vigorous and targeted outreach in the hardest-hit communities,” said the President and CEO. of the National Urban League, Marc H. Morial.
“This partnership between the National Urban League and the SBA leverages the Urban League’s extensive networks of partnerships and community relationships to reach those same businesses and entrepreneurs who have been left behind.”
Andrea Custis, president and CEO of the Urban League of Philadelphia, explained how the Community Navigator program will expand its efforts to support local entrepreneurs. For 15 years, the ULP Entrepreneurship Center has provided free coaching, counseling, and advisory services to small businesses in the Philadelphia area. Last year, the center served 1,300 black-owned small businesses.
Custis said many black-owned businesses had to shut down during the pandemic because they didn’t have access to capital.
“We didn’t have that extra money to get through the pandemic,” she said. “So what the pandemic did was it shed light on what we knew was there.”
She noted that 41% of black-owned businesses have been shuttered nationwide during the pandemic, compared to 17% of white-owned businesses.
During their visit to Philadelphia, Guzman and Morial also participated in a private roundtable where they heard from business owners’ challenges and concerns.