Business

Chase Launches Business Mentorship Program for Business Owners of Color

Four years after launching MLK Deli, Tyrone White has reached a level of success where he employs 30 people at three locations and brings in seven figures annually.

Even so, White has been unable to secure a business loan, for reasons initially unbeknownst to him.

However, with the help of business consultants from Chase, he has boosted his business acumen and improved aspects of MLK Deli’s operations that make it more attractive to lenders.

“It’s bigger than just making $1 million,” White told The Informer.

“You have to show your taxes and financial statements. If you’re claiming everything [on your taxes], you can’t show how you can pay off that money.”

White just completed the first month of a six-month program Chase coordinated to help Black and Latinx business owners expand their businesses.

This endeavor, part of a $30 billion movement for racial equity, covers 13 cities where entrepreneurs connect with coaches. Businesses that qualify must have been in existence for more than two years and generated at least $100,000 in revenue.

Each week, White, one of 100 local business owners expected to participate in the program this year, meets with Chase business coaches Kristina Sicard and Darla Harris. This duo helps White analyze his venture and develop long-time business goals.

In doing so, White explores cash flow management, business development, operations and other intricacies of running a business.

“I wasn’t taught the operations part of the business,” White said.

“You can make a lot of money and still not make it because you don’t know how to work your working capital. That’s really big for me.”

A 2020 report examining the business density in D.C. and four other East Coast cities found that Black people owned 30 percent of District businesses. However, they generated less revenue than their racial counterparts, although they performed better than Black businesses in New York, Philadelphia and Atlanta.

To tackle this issue, Chase has not only maintained a presence in the community through business coaching but also in collaborations with community development financial institutions.

These partnerships coalesce into events where business consultants discuss topics of interest to Black and Latinx business owners.

These workshops, one of which Chase conducted with the Anacostia Business Improvement District earlier this year, often focus on grant writing and cash management and building a strong budget portfolio.

Sicard, Chase’s senior business consultant, vice president, described the arrangement as the ideal relationship a financial institution should have with the community. Over the next few months, she’ll meet with more than two dozen business owners.

“We’ve found that often there is a lack of education, such as what’s needed to get a loan. That’s something we are trying to correct with this new program.” Sicard said.

Kristina Sicard and Darla Harris, VP, Sr. Banking Consultants for a new Chase for Business program focused on minority entrepreneurs at the Chase Skyland Community Branch. (Courtesy of JPMorgan Chase)
Kristina Sicard and Darla Harris, VP, Sr. Banking Consultants for a new Chase for Business program focused on minority entrepreneurs at the Chase Skyland Community Branch. (Courtesy of JPMorgan Chase)

‘This is the bank’s way of acknowledging the disparities and inequities that have been in place. There are opportunities to bring everyone up and form an inclusive economic environment where people can strive for success.”

Throughout the pandemic, businesses owned by people of color struggled to acquire Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

Last year, less than one out of five applicants of color received the amounts they requested. Even with changes to application requirements, a significant number of Black and Latinx-owned businesses, especially those with no relationship to a banking institution, haven’t been approved for a PPP loan.

Harris, who also serves as a senior business consultant, vice president at Chase, said the circumstances suggest greater forces at play that must be rectified with education. She too will help more than two dozen businesses meet their financial goals over the next three months.

“Business owners missed out on the PPP loan because they didn’t have the right financial package or information ready,” Harris told The Informer.

“Business is now something we can help them with. [We can talk about] cash flow management. How do you get money in and out of your business? This has been left out of the community.”

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