This year, community partners including LiftFund, The San Antonio Area Foundation, and the Corporate Partners for Racial Equity came together to bring to life a unique kind of program: The Grow Now! Financial Equity Fund. The vision of the program is to uplift black-owned businesses in Bexar County – not only with grant funding, but also through training, business support, and mentorship, all aimed to give these businesses their best shot at success. Since launching this April, the program has blossomed into a tight-knit community, with a mission to support each business owner on their entrepreneurial journey.
The Financial Equity Fund pools together a total of $1.75 million in funding to support black entrepreneurs over a 3-year period. For this program year, a class of 18 Bexar County businesses will receive a total of $500,000, each awarded a grant of up to $35,000.
The group comes from diverse backgrounds and industries, all coming together to work towards their small business goals and dreams. Participating businesses include restaurants, childcare centers, creative professionals, mental health private practices, massage services, and more. Each business supports not only the entrepreneurs running the business, but their families, the staff they employ, and the surrounding community.
One grantee, Every Moment Matters, owned by Emma Williams, provides services to help people with developmental disabilities reach their goals and achieve independence.
Emma says, “Every Moment Matters Agency fully believes that all individuals – despite disability – can be capable of community integration and becoming a contributing member of their families and their neighborhoods.”
Another grantee, Dr. Andre Smith of the Eastside Christian Dental Clinic, is dedicated to providing affordable services to his community. He aims to keep prices low and volunteers his services to those that need them most. Dr. Smith says the grant from the Financial Equity Fund will have a big impact on the clinic, saying, “I think it would keep my staff employed through these difficult times. I thank God we stayed afloat during COVID. Any help would give us relief and means to stay open a little while longer. Thank you for the opportunity to help us in our most vulnerable times of uncertainty”
Each program grantee impacts their community in different ways and brings to the group a unique perspective.
Grantee, Denise A. Bromley, President of DB3 Unlimited Services LLC, brings to the team experience and leadership she’s gained from providing risk management and insurance services. She has seen her company leverage its resources and recently secured contracts with one of the largest municipalities in Texas. She created DB3 Unlimited Services LLC to provide claims auditing, strategic planning and organizational change management, and risk management consulting services to municipalities including school districts. Her influence is being recognized throughout Texas as she has presented at the City of McAllen Risk and Safety Conference this summer and is slated to present at the Texas Public Risk and Insurance (PRIMA) annual conference in November 2022.
In reflecting what advice she would give to others, she says, “Whether it’s a revenue-generating opportunity or not, evaluate each opportunity to determine if it aligns with your personal and business values. If so, treat that opportunity as if it is a million-dollar contract.”
Since the program launched this spring, LiftFund’s Women’s Business Center in San Antonio has led the group through an intensive series of group sessions and one-on-one advising. Each month, grantees go through in-depth training focused on topics small businesses need to be successful – marketing, accounting, and capacity building, to name a few.
The next stage for the Financial Equity fund grantees is to be paired with mentors to guide them in their journey. The LiftFund WBC will coordinate and match the pairs of mentors and mentees to help each business take greater strides towards their business goals.
With support from cohort members, the WBC and now mentors, grantees have a community of support dedicated to seeing them succeed.