Most small businesses owned by people of color have lost more than half of their revenue during the pandemic.
That’s according to the Equity Alliance’s Our Fair Share Community Needs Assessment, where they surveyed Nashville’s most vulnerable communities, including the 12 hardest hit zip codes.
The organization presented their findings earlier this month to the Metro committee that recommends how to spend federal COVID-19 money.
Only 32% of business owners of color say they’ve received cash stimulus from the government. And although they will have another chance when the city starts releasing federal CARES Act money, Charlane Oliver of the Equity Alliance says they found out through a focus group that there’s a disconnect: Many entrepreneurs of color don’t know the resources exist.
“They didn’t know the state had a Tennessee business relief program,” Oliver says. “And so, they went back after that and started filling out that paperwork. So it’s just more of an information gap that we need to address.”
Business owners must apply for funding through Pathways Lending, a nonprofit that lends to small businesses. It hasn’t started dispersing funds to business owners, but once it does, a city official says they will track the demographics of who is receiving help.
City officials say they’ll use the Equity Alliance’s guidance to improve outreach to marginalized communities.
The Equity Alliance hosted pop up events and weekly engagement calls connecting United Way with organizations on the frontlines. It also assigned canvassers to neighborhoods and did paid advertising.