Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

The city of Charlottesville is working to support small businesses owned by minorities through the Business Equity Fund, a new loan program initiated by Councilor Wes Bellamy. At the same time, a small-business owner has created a directory of African American-owned businesses in the area.

Hollie Lee, chief of workforce development strategies for the city’s economic development department, said the Business Equity Fund will be administered in partnership with the Community Investment Collaborative (CIC). Interested owners of small businesses that are at least six months old can contact the economic development office to see if they are eligible before going to the CIC to apply for the loan.

The Business Equity Fund offers a subsidized, below-market interest rates of up to 3%. Most of the loans will range between $5,000 and $20,000.

Lee added that Charlottesville is also developing its own SWaM (small, woman-owned and minority-owned business) directory that will include vendors that are registered with the city on its website, charlottesville.org/business/minority-business-program.

Another directory, for black businesses, was created by local media marketing strategist and small-business owner, Destinee Wright on her blog at hellodestineewright.com/blog/2018/11/23/blackownedbusinesses-cville. Businesses listed in the directory include beauty product sellers and service providers in catering, photography and air conditioning.

Aside from the directory, Wright operates two small businesses of her own: Plaited Beauty a mobile hair service that specializes in braids and Destinee Marketing LLC, a social media and marketing company.

The city has looked to Wright’s directory to expand its pool of vendors with whom it can contract.