Funding Your Green Business

Carolyn L. Green is co-founder and managing partner of EnerGreen Capital Management, a Radnor, Pennsylvania-based private equity firm that focuses on late venture and growth stage companies involved in the energy and environmental industries. She says business capital will continue to be scarce in the next year or two as the nation moves out of the recession, but you can position yourself well by bearing the following tips in mind.

Show your track record.
“Show investors that your product works in the marketplace,” she advises. “If you are someone who wants to get into business, think about what you do well and how you can make that attractive to someone. Stay in your area of expertise and add value where you can.”

Look to buy. “You don’t always have to look at start-ups,” Green points out. “Take a look at the community around you and find out who has a business that they’ve been operating for 10 or 20 years. They’ve been successful but the owner may be aging and may not have children to take [the business] over. Keep your eyes and ears open at community meetings, in your church, lodge, or fraternity. There are real opportunities out there if you’re open to them.”

Think big. “Black-owned companies need to be competitive – period,” Green declares. “We don’t dream big enough. It is generally easier to borrow more money than to borrow less. You go through exactly the same process, filling out the loan papers and getting the credit checks, borrowing $7.5 million as you do borrowing $75,000.”

Maya Payne Smart is a frequent contributor to Black Enterprise.