Shark-Tank like venture fund to support small businesses tackling racial inequities and building up underserved communities
BALTIMORE, February 15, 2022. Capital Plus Financial, a community development financial institution (CDFI) and certified B Corp announced today the launch of a $2 million social impact venture competition to support promising companies tackling the obstacles that fuel the racial wealth gap and disproportionately burden Black and brown communities across the country.
“The success of small businesses is critical if we are going to address the challenges facing underserved communities in America, from financial literacy and affordable housing to food deserts and access to capital. For every one of these problems, a small business somewhere is fighting to solve it. We are going to help them succeed,” said Thiru Vignarajah, CEO of Capital Plus Financial. “This initiative matches our work and our values, and we are grateful to have anchor partners who are just as committed to confronting these issues.”
Partners in the pitch competition will include the Community Consulting Lab at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and the Latino Business Action Network (LBAN), a Stanford University partner that operates the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative.
With an initial commitment of $2 million from Capital Plus Financial, the social impact venture competition will inject capital into promising small businesses, through either low-cost debt or equity investments. Winners will not only receive a financial award, but also a lasting network, increased visibility, and committed mentors forged through the competition. Students, faculty, and affiliates of the pitch partners will support companies both during and after the competition.
“Through this program, we are bringing a new source of capital to innovative businesses that aim to close the racial wealth gap. This is well-aligned with LBAN’s mission of improving access to capital for Latinos across the country,” said Jennifer Garcia, COO of LBAN. “The intentional design of this program will create a ripple effect in Latino and Black communities, generating a multi-faceted win for the business, the community, and our country at large.”
Applicants will be entered into the competition through sponsor networks, and prize winners will receive awards between $50,000 and $500,000, in the form of low-cost debt or equity investments.
“Investing in the underserved communities where we work is a critical component to addressing the disparities we see across the country today. We hope that our bank partners and broader banking industry and foundations committed to this mission will join us in amplifying this program,” said Eric Donnelly, chief executive officer and director of Crossroads Impact Corporation.
Additional anchor partners, along with application materials, criteria, and timeline, will be announced in the coming weeks.
About Capital Plus Financial
Certified by the U.S. Treasury as a CDFI, Capital Plus Financial believes minority-owned small businesses and people of color are entitled to equal opportunities in the banking system and is committed to breaking down barriers in communities that have been disenfranchised, underserved, underbanked and underfunded. Capital Plus is the wholly owned subsidiary of Crossroads Impact Corporation (OTCQB: CRSS), a holding company focused on investing in businesses that promote economic vitality and community development.
About Community Consulting Lab at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School
The Community Consulting Lab at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School challenges students to apply their business skills and knowledge to assist local minority-owned small businesses throughout the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. region. Working as empowered consultants, students apply innovative problem-solving techniques to help partners find solutions to business challenges. Carey Business School offers full-time, part-time, and online MBA and MS degree programs, and executive education programs built to compete in an ever-changing business world. For more information, visit carey.jhu.edu.
About Latino Action Business Network (LBAN)
LBAN is a dynamic Silicon Valley nonprofit with a big mission to strengthen the U.S. economy by empowering Latino entrepreneurship across the country. LBAN partners with Stanford University through the jointly-supported Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (SLEI). In addition to driving SLEI-Research, SLEI-Education Business Scaling Program, LBAN focuses on building a national ecosystem for Latino business owners.
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