U.S. San Francisco funds more to support African American small businesses

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) — U.S. San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Monday announced an investment of 2.5 million U.S. dollars in the city’s African American Small Business Revolving Loan Fund (AARLF).

The investment brings the total secured funding to 6.3 million dollars and will enable the fund to support an estimated 150 businesses, the announcement said.

“This has been such a difficult year for small businesses across San Francisco, and sadly, Black-owned businesses across the country have been especially hard hit and many have had to close their doors for good,” said Breed.

“The San Francisco Foundation and our donors are committed to supporting Black businesses that have been systemically excluded from accessing capital,” said Fred Blackwell, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation. “This fund will help Black residents build their wealth, and when Black, Indigenous, and people-of-color communities thrive, we all thrive.”

The AARLF was established in June 2020 by Breed in partnership with the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce and community lending partner Main Street Launch as the city’s comprehensive COVID-19 response for Black-owned and Black-serving businesses resulting from disproportionate impacts of the pandemic.

The program offers zero-interest loans of up to 50,000 U.S. dollars for qualifying businesses, and no loan payments are due until 2022.

Since the pandemic, San Francisco has directed over 24 million dollars in grants and loans to support more than 1,200 small businesses, and recently announced a new 62-million-U.S.-dollar plan to provide ongoing relief and recovery support to small businesses, according to the announcement.

Nationally, one in five Black businesses was impacted or closed due to the pandemic, according to a May 2020 Working Paper published by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

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