T. Rowe Price, the independent investment management firm, is investing in underserved communities and entrepreneurs in the Baltimore area.
It’s no surprise one of the biggest factors holding Black entrepreneurs and startups back is access to funding. According to Bank of America’s 2021 “Black Business Owner Spotlight,” 56% of Black entrepreneurs say access to credit hinders their ability to grow.
“The fact that more than half of Black business owners today say challenges accessing capital have limited their business’ growth is deeply troubling,” A.J. Barkley, neighborhood lending executive for Bank of America, told BLACK ENTERPRISE last year.
T. Rowe Price is throwing its support and dollars behind several initiatives to change how Black businesses and entrepreneurs get funding.
T. Rowe Price has teamed up with KIVA Baltimore, the world’s first person-to-person microlending website. KIVA underwrites zero-interest and zero-fee business loans up to $15,000 and facilitates crowdfunding efforts. T. Rowe Price has contributed almost $300,000 in grants to help the launch of KIVA. Currently, 61% of Kiva borrowers are women entrepreneurs, and 69% of borrowers are entrepreneurs of color.
“Kiva is thrilled to bring our crowdfunded, 0% interest loans to meet the needs of Baltimore’s most underserved entrepreneurs. In the U.S., where minority-owned, women-owned, and startup businesses face numerous barriers to financing, we’re proud to extend opportunity by lending to entrepreneurs based on character, not credit score,” Kiva co-founder and President Premal Shah said in a statement.
T. Rowe Price has also founded the Elevation Awards to support early-stage social entrepreneurs and community leaders in the Baltimore area. The awards will provide grants of up to $10,000 and personalized support for Baltimore residents of color piloting new approaches and methods to strengthen their city.
Major companies and financial institutions placed a more significant focus on Black businesses and entrepreneurs during the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement. Tech, finance, and Fortune 500 companies committed millions to help small Black businesses and entrepreneurs streamline their processes online, partner with retail giants, and grow.