Times Community Services, Inc., The Baltimore Times Foundation hosted the third “Access to Capital 2019 Small Business Forum,” where an array of lenders and nonprofits serving businesses in all stages of maturity, assembled for the annual function at The Impact Hub Baltimore on Saturday, June 15, 2019.
The event featured bankers, credit specialists, alternative financial lenders, small businesses and nonprofit resource providers who were able to dispense valuable information to attendees regarding such critical subjects as lowering costs and preparing loan application packages.
Four micro-grants were offered to help entrepreneurs to expand their businesses. The participants had to complete an application and tell about their business with their best elevator speech.
“This year’s Access To Capital event was fantastic— it’s really great to provide a much needed offering to our community,” said the event’s director Cassandra Vincent. “I believe this year’s focus on credit was the beginning of a much needed and larger conversation and I am pleased that The Baltimore Times/Times Foundation and Lendistry creates a space for the community members, community stakeholders, and community partners to engage and discuss the challenges and realities that many hard working small business owners and entrepreneurs in Baltimore face.”
Educating communities of color remains “extremely important as we work to build wealth and reduce the areas and people within persistent poverty,” said Everett Sands, CEO of Lendistry, which offers small business loans and lines of credit to help grow businesses and to pay off debt.
Sands said hearing the comments, questions and feedback provided throughout the program was an important part of the Access to Capital program.
What draws Sands to Access to Capital is the “ability to teach others about credit and access to capital,” he said.
Donald J. Hoyt of Wells Fargo said he was asked to attend the event as part of a financial service provider panel.
“It’s very important that entrepreneurs know how to capitalize their ideas,” Hoyt said.
Erika Jernigan, the CEO of the children’s transportation service, Lexi’s Lil Bug, LLC, said the event proved a valuable resource that will help her to learn how to build a stronger portfolio so that she could leverage funding opportunities with an eye toward expanding her business.
“The wealth of knowledge provided is essential for anyone to know how the credit game is played and gain freedom at the same time for generations to come,” Jernigan said.
In Baltimore, there is a dynamic business community made up of talented entrepreneurs who are forging ahead to create a legacy and build businesses against all odds, according to Vincent.
“Access to Capital offered education and information that supports business owners with ways to build their capacity,” Vincent said. “In the future, we look forward to addressing some creative ways to fund businesses and bring to the conversation decision makers and funders looking to invest in Baltimore-based businesses, especially to invest in those located in divested communities.”
Vincent added that there is untapped talent and budding entrepreneurs in the city who really need added support and education.
“And,” she said. “More importantly, they need funding to propel not only their business into better positions but also to strengthen their families and communities by building the capacity of their respective businesses and enterprises.”