Nonprofit fund provides loans and mentoring for Black business owners

BY DANIELLE ST. LUCE

Established in 1987, the Black Business Investment Fund of Florida is a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution that has successfully developed, capitalized and trained minority and underbanked businesses statewide for 30 years.

Trey Alston, BBIF

Trey Alston, left, a senior lender, congratulates a recipient of BBIF financial and business services.

A Black business and investment corporation, BBIF was created through the Florida Small and Minority Business Act in 1985. This act was a response to the reality that Black business owners were being overlooked by large, traditional lenders, making it nearly impossible for them to obtain financing for their businesses.

One line from this act reads, “…the time has come to eliminate the economically crippling and demeaning disparities between blacks and other Floridians.”

In the past three decades, the fund has grown from a BBIC to a CDFI and Community Development Enterprise. CDFIs and CDEs are nonprofit financial institutions that focus on providing and expanding economic opportunity in low-income communities.

Certified by the Department of the Treasury, CDFIs and CDEs support underserved communities through their financial services. As a CDFI and CDE, the fund has expanded its services from serving only Black businesses to all businesses statewide, with its focus and expertise firmly rooted in supporting Black businesses.

Additionally, BBIF works with the Small Business Administration as an SBA-approved Microlender, Community Advantage lender and Paycheck Protection Program lender. It is also a member of the Opportunity Finance Network, the Association for Enterprise Opportunity and is triple star A-rated with Aeris.

BBIF’s loans are provided through seven distinct loan pools: the Black Business Loan Fund, the Contract Financing Loan Fund, the Small Business Loan Fund, the Micro Loan Fund, the New Market Tax Credit Business Loan Fund, the General Business Loan Fund, and Hurricane Resiliency Loan Fund.

As a direct lender, BBIF can provide flexible loan structures to clients. Most of its loans are structured in the following ways: short-term and long-term working capital, commercial real estate loans, lines of credit, term loans, loan guarantees, and participatory loans.

BBIF’s business advisory services support, develop and train business owners to create and sustain growth. Its team utilizes a holistic approach to educate clients and build successful businesses.

This approach includes analyzing client businesses, tracking critical success factors and having a structured conversation with clients about their progress. It helps clients identify opportunities, challenges, avoid blind spots and identify the most important focus areas within their business.

The fund’s approach is founded in its belief that business success is achieved when access to capital, capacity enhancement, business opportunities and business relationships are all accessible to the business owner.

BBIF has developed an understanding of how to successfully provide loan capital and training to historically underbanked businesses. Through its work over the past three decades, it has provided more than 400 businesses with more than $45 million in loans and thousands of hours of business advisory services. This work has resulted in more than 13,000 jobs and $500 million in total economic impact.

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