Five Black businesses to receive $2.6 million in loans from foundation

Deonna Barnett founded Aventi Enterprises, one of five Columbus minority-owned businesses receiving below-market loans from the Columbus Foundation as part of a new program to address racial inequity in small businesses.

The Columbus Foundation has provided $2.6 million in low-interest loans to five Black-owned and Black-led businesses as part of a new effort to close the racial wealth gap in central Ohio.

Aventi Enterprises, Embedded Services, The Mezzanine Fund, Our Hospitality Group and Prospera Advisory Group are the first to receive funding from the foundation’s new Equitable Small Business Fund, which aims to increase access to capital and services for entrepreneurs of color.

The foundation launched the fund in May. It committed $5 million to what it called project-related investments made by foundations in local communities. In this case, the foundation is providing below-market loans to minority-owned and led businesses.

“Small business owners need access to capital to grow their businesses. Yet, historically, entrepreneurs of color have faced systemic barriers when trying to access capital, and today they continue to face many of the same barriers,” said the foundation’s president and Chief Executive Officer Douglas Kridler (Douglas F. Kridler) said at a news conference.

According to the foundation and Next Street, white entrepreneurs attract 17 times more equity capital than black and Hispanic entrepreneurs. Black business owners are also approved to receive financing at one-third the rate of white business owners.

Marvin's, a Brewery District restaurant and lounge operated by Our Hospitality Group, has received funding from the Columbus Foundation for a new loan program aimed at addressing racial inequality.

Government and bank small business lending programs are also not distributed equitably in Columbus, according to the two groups, which target mostly high-income white neighborhoods.

Charisse Conanan Johnson, one of Next Street’s co-CEOs, said the loan from the Columbus Foundation is one of many ways community foundations across the country are taking to address business inequality.

“The solution required is a holistic solution that involves stakeholders in various fields,” she said.

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