Mayor London Breed Announces Fund to Support Black-Owned Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 Grows to $3.2 Million
The African American Small Business Revolving Loan Fund will help at least 70 Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs access much-needed financial capital, with zero-interest loans of up to $50,000
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), Main Street Launch, and the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce today announced the African American Small Business Revolving Loan Fund has grown to $3.2 million. An additional $1.7 million in newly announced funding will provide capital and financial assistance for African American entrepreneurs and Black-owned small businesses in San Francisco impacted by COVID-19.
“Black-owned businesses were already struggling to survive in San Francisco and COVID-19 has just made it even harder. It’s critical that we find ways to support our community and help businesses make it through,” said Mayor Breed. “We know there are a lot of entrepreneurs and businesses in need—with people struggling to pay rent on their storefronts, support their employees, or have income to afford other basic necessities. Given the lack of continued federal support, San Francisco is stepping up to meet the moment and fill that need with an additional $1.7 million for the African American Small Business Revolving Loan Fund.”
The purpose of the African American Small Business Revolving Loan Fund is to help stabilize San Francisco’s Black-owned small businesses by meeting urgent capital needs brought on by sudden revenue loss from business disruption resulting from COVID-19. In June, Mayor Breed announced an initial investment of $1.5 million from Give2SF donations to support Black-owned businesses. With an additional investment of $500,000 from Give2SF, the City’s lending partner, Main Street Launch, was able to borrow $1.2 million in lending capital for the African American Small Business Revolving Loan Fund, bringing the total amount of funding for the program to $3.2 million.
“As we continue to invest in the Black community here in San Francisco, we understand that supporting Black business is key to a thriving community,” said Supervisor Shamann Walton. “We know that we don’t have enough resources to address every need, but we are working hard to keep our businesses open. Increasing the pot for the African American Small Business Revolving Loan Fund is key to keeping Black businesses afloat during this pandemic and this is a must for survival.”
Nearly 400 businesses applied for the African American Small Business Revolving Loan Fund during the two-week application period, demonstrating that there is significant need for financial assistance among San Francisco’s Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. Today, Mayor Breed announced that 40 small businesses were recently selected to start the full application process for zero-interest loans of up to $50,000. Small businesses not invited to move forward in this round will be automatically considered in the next funding round. The $1.7 million expansion in funding will provide for at least an additional 30 loans to small businesses.
“Black-owned businesses anchor our diverse communities, creating places of work that foster creativity, opportunity, community and culture for all San Franciscans,” said Joaquín Torres, Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “We’ve seen too many of these businesses hit hard by COVID-19, compounding the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on our African-American communities. As a City, we're committed to providing the access to capital and resources necessary to best serve our vital and historically underserved communities and ensuring the ongoing economic and cultural vibrancy of San Francisco.”
The loans are prioritized for long-standing San Francisco African American businesses, especially those businesses most impacted by COVID-19 including those that have not been able to operate since the Stay Home Order was issued in March. A portion of the funds are set aside for small businesses that have not be able to reopen under Health Orders, including hair salons, barber shops and other personal services, gyms and personal fitness, and bars and night life. Funds can be used to pay for rent, payroll, equipment and machinery, inventory, furniture and fixtures, tenant improvements, and COVID-19 related expenses including marketing and improving online presence and reopening costs.
“We have known for some time that Black businesses were hurting badly because of lack of access to capital. Our concerns were validated by the recent release of a UC Santa Cruz report that documented that 41% of Black businesses have closed permanently due to COVID-19. What surprised us with the initial response from nearly 400 businesses was the magnitude approaching $16M and the unfortunate possibility that these businesses could also close for good,” says Dr. Matthew Ajiake, President of the African American Chamber of Commerce. “This is why we are grateful to the Mayor, her staff, and Main Street Launch for identifying an additional $1.7 million to bring our direct loan and grant facility to $3.2 million. We know that systemic and structural racism that have historically denied Black businesses access to capital cannot be solved by government and NGOs alone and while the need from these businesses is great, the need for a substantive sustainable source of access to capital for Black businesses in San Francisco is the imperative. Nothing can be worse than watching our culturally sustaining and essential Black businesses in historically Black neighborhoods close forever. So, we appeal to the private sector and persons of goodwill to help us grow this revolving loan fund to $40M. If this goal is reached, our City’s economic landscape will be greatly enriched and sustainable to meet the needs of current and future San Francisco Black businesses in a meaningful and measurable way that gives dignity and respect to them.”
“We are a gym, group fitness, personal training, physical therapy and massage business and we have been around since 2005,” said Mallory Gaston, Owner of Body Mechanix, LLC. “Due to COVID-19, we have not been able to use our facility for business as usual, and this has forced us to reimagine our business model and what it would take to implement a new model for the future that is safe and sustainable. Funding from the African American Small Business Revolving Loan Fund, if we are successful in getting it, would allow us to adapt to this new normal and execute our plan so that our business can survive.”
San Francisco recognizes the oppressive history of racial injustice, the structural inequities that remain today, and the trauma those inequities perpetuate. Specifically, Black-owned businesses were in a perilous environment pre-COVID-19 and that environment has resulted in disproportionate financial impacts due to the pandemic both locally and nationally, creating further uncertainty as the City moves into recovery. Black-owned businesses are over-represented in the hardest hit sectors of the economy and tend to be smaller, with only a third of the revenue of non-black businesses and lower cash reserves. Black-owned businesses also face more hurdles in accessing liquidity and support services, and are 60 percent less likely to receive all of the financing they need, which puts them at additional risk for closure.
Since the pandemic began, San Francisco has allocated $17.2 million to support over 1,130 small businesses through the City’s financial relief and assistance package. The COVID-19 financial relief programs were designed to remove barriers to access including personal guarantees and certain collateral requirements.
“Our organization is very excited and honored to broaden our partnership with the honorable Mayor London Breed, San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce” says Jacob Singer, President and CEO, Main Street Launch. “This newly expanded African American Small Business Revolving Loan Fund will help to bridge the capital gap while providing a foundation for immediate stability and future growth of Black owned businesses in San Francisco.
The African American Small Business Revolving Loan Fund is part of San Francisco’s COVID-19 financial relief package that includes other grant and loan programs that complement citywide efforts to support micro-enterprises and small businesses historically underserved by private banks and other traditional sources of financing. The investments reflect the City’s commitment to ensuring a more equitable recovery and inclusive future economy.
For more information and a comprehensive list of small business recipients to date through the City’s financial relief and assistance package, please visit oewd.org/impact.
Additional Support for Small Businesses
Mayor Breed’s initiatives to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic include:
- Deferring business registration fees businesses totaling $49 million for 89,000 businesses and further delaying the City’s collection of the unified license fee until March 2021. This will lead to $14 million in deferrals impacting 11,000 payees.
- Business tax deferrals for small businesses with up to $10 million in gross receipts. Mayor Breed and Treasurer Cisneros notified small businesses that their first quarter businesses taxes can be deferred until February 2021. No interest payments, fees, or fines will accrue as a result of the deferral.
- $10 million Workers and Families First Paid Sick Leave Program, proving up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per employee.
- $9 million Emergency Loan Fund providing up to $50,000 in zero-interest loans for individual small businesses.
- $2.5 million Resiliency Grants providing up to $10,000 grants to over 300 small businesses.
- $1 million for Neighborhood Mini-Grants to Support 300 Small Businesses in Underserved Communities.
- $2.5 million in support for working artists and arts and cultural organizations financially impacted by COVID-19.
- Supporting nonprofits funded by the City so workers don’t lose their incomes;
- Issuing a Moratorium on Commercial Evictions for small and medium sized businesses that can’t afford to pay rent.
- Capping the commission at 15% on 3rd party food delivery companies;
- Advocating for additional resources for small business and workers through the federal CARES Act.
- Establishing City Philanthropic www.Give2SF.org Fund, where donations will support housing stabilization, food security, and financial security for workers and small businesses impacted by coronavirus.
- Launching a one stop City website for businesses and workers seeking resources, contacts, and updates during the COVID-19 emergency: www.oewd.org/covid19.