The Truist Foundation Pledges $1.5M To Black-Owned Businesses In Virginia
On July 24, The Truist Foundation announced a $1.5 million grant to support an initiative to fund a small business loan program for historically undercapitalized communities.
According to The Virginian Pilot, Truist, in partnership with the St. Louis-based nonprofit Urban Strategies and People First, will provide resources and capital to Black and minority-owned businesses in Norfolk, Virginia, and beyond. “There are so many small businesses out there that can use this financial capital to really take off,” Urban Strategies president and CEO Esther Shin said. “Without significant economic intervention, families without financial capacity will not only continue to struggle, but the racial wealth gap will continue to widen.”
Shin, who is of Asian descent, comes from a family of immigrants who relied on the good faith and generosity of those around them to finance their dream of owning a business. “They were fortunate enough to have crucial connections that made their dream possible, because at the time, you were solidly a working-class family without any assets and likely would not have qualified for any sort of traditional business loan,” she said.
For Truist’s Virginia regional president Thomas Ransom, the focus is on organizations with the expertise and résumés to prove they can come into communities and create positive change efficiently. But it’s also a deeply personal mission, he told The Virginian Pilot. “When I was a little kid, we started a convenience store, but we never knew a banker, never knew how to get access to capital, never got training on how to run books,” Ransom said. “So, how do you grow?”
Sustaining a business is paramount to truly seeing the fruit from the labor of entrepreneurship, something that minority-owned businesses often struggle with. The hope is that through this initiative, small businesses and their owners can see a real return on their investments “so these businesses don’t just start, they start, and they thrive. That’s how you change communities,” said Ransom. “Small businesses are core to the health and vibrancy of our communities.”