Black- and women-owned businesses are among the fastest-growing segment in the small business sector. But those firms still often can’t get the financing or resources they need to start up or expand their operations.
Research also reveals that black-owned firms are less likely to receive loans, receive lower loan amounts and pay higher interest rates than non-black firms. But the national advocacy group Small Business Majority hopes to make accessing capital easier for those firms by leading Venturize into its next phase.
Venturize is a public effort launched in 2016 to help small business owners make better decisions when pursuing financing. Although a resource tool and not a lender, Venturize will be added to Small Business Majority’s existing entrepreneurship program. That program started in 2015 to help small businesses gain access to critical resources on issues such as responsible lending, retirement, healthcare, and other benefits.
The new resource portal is intended to help all businesses, but especially those in underserved communities, says Simon Brown, a spokesman for the Small Business Majority. He says minority, women and younger entrepreneurs will be able to connect with a network of educational organizations, business groups, and responsible lenders that can help them grow. He added that Venturize will help connect African American entrepreneurs and others obtain financing from lenders who are committed to helping underserved communities succeed, including community development financial institutions (CDFIs).
“Business owners who are not able to obtain a loan initially can use Venturize to access educational resources so they can obtain the knowledge they need to help them become loan ready,” Brown says.
Venturize allows small business owners to make an unbiased comparison of loan options and learn about different types of loans and different types of lenders, Brown says. On the educational resources front, entrepreneurs can learn how to find and secure financing, how to establish retirement plans for themselves and their employees, and how to access and use health insurance and other workplace benefits.
Brown says Venturize can connect entrepreneurs with lenders who offer various loan amounts, starting at $5,000. He added most of those lenders provide loans under $100,000, which larger banks often have a harder time underwriting. And some loans could exceed $100,000.
Venturize was launched by Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) to help connect small firms with approved lenders and business assistance providers. Since Venturize’s inception, the platform has engaged an estimated 330,000 small business owners via its teaching tools and interactive resources.
“For entrepreneurs, getting even a small loan could determine whether or not a business succeeds or fails,” said Small Business Majority Founder & CEO John Arensmeyer. “Securing funding is a major challenge for almost all entrepreneurs, and while obtaining capital might feel like an uphill battle, the truth is there are more funding options today than ever before. Our new resource portal outlines these funding options and provides entrepreneurs with the tools they need to make the best decisions for their small business.”
“We are excited that Small Business Majority is taking on the next phase of development for Venturize,” said OFN President and CEO Lisa Mensah. “More small business owners will prosper when they are armed with the information they need to borrow with confidence. Venturize is a natural extension of the great work the Small Business Majority already does to connect entrepreneurs to responsible capital. The potential for continued platform enhancement and audience growth is tremendous and we are cheering them on.”