Three Organizations Partner to Help Black Women Entrepreneurs in Mississippi Gain Access to Capital

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (June 29, 2020)–RSF Social Finance has issued a $100,000 loan guaranty to Communities Unlimited Inc., enabling the Fayetteville, Arkansas-based community development financial institution to make more loans to Black women entrepreneurs in Mississippi through a partnership with Higher Purpose Co.

“Making loans to Black women entrepreneurs may be the single most important strategy to move down a path toward equity,” said Communities Unlimited CEO Ines Polonius. “Every loan that reaches a Black woman ripples into her family and community. It has the potential to transform lives and build generational wealth, and we’re honored to be the lender in this partnership and now a member of Higher Purpose’s network.”

Clarksdale, Mississippi-based Higher Purpose Co, an economic justice nonprofit dedicated to using the power of ownership to help Black communities thrive in the state, will refer women participating in its Higher Purpose Funding Network to Communities Unlimited. HPC will help with loan applications and then provide funded entrepreneurs with at least one year of business support.

“Black woman-owned businesses are a growing segment of the economy, yet they have historically had fewer resources to support their businesses,” said Tim Lampkin, CEO of HPC, which targets entrepreneurs in the food and agriculture, health and wellness, education, and arts and culture sectors. “This partnership will help us tremendously in changing that.”

The partnership also reflects the mission of RSF’s Women’s Capital Collaborative, a philanthropic fund that supports women-led businesses that benefit women and girls. The WCC uses RSF’s integrated capital approach, which coordinates the use of different forms of financial capital and nonfinancial resources to support social enterprises.

“Black women are important role models in their communities. Their business success can motivate young people, multiplying the impact of any single loan to a Black woman-owned business,” said Alexandria Cabral, senior associate of credit at RSF Social Finance. “We’re inspired by this work and are excited that this new agreement unlocks more capital for women entrepreneurs, especially Black women, during this time of national pain and the pandemic’s economic fallout.”

HPC network member Keyah Williams, center, founded Mama Nature’s Juice Bar in Mississippi. She shared advice with last fall’s cohort of HPC business fellows during their visit to one of her two store locations. Photo credit: Courtesy of Higher Purpose Co

According to Polonius, rural communities in the Mississippi Delta depend on Black women starting businesses in order to create jobs and provide essential quality-of-life services.

Because of the loan guaranty from RSF’s Women’s Capital Collaborative, Communities Unlimited will be able to lend money to entrepreneurs who otherwise may not have qualified for a loan. As the loans are repaid to CU, the guaranty funds recycle, supporting new loans and more entrepreneurs.

HPC will track its success based on revenue generated by small businesses and the program’s social impact.

“Being a Black entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart and can be difficult, but being a Black female entrepreneur can be especially daunting in such a male-dominated atmosphere,” said Constance Brown, capital access coordinator at HPC. “This is one of the reasons why I am so thrilled that HPC, RSF and CU have partnered to support Black women-owned businesses through the loan guaranty.”

Brown, who works closely with the Higher Purpose Funding Network, added that she is confident the partnership will help this subset of entrepreneurs sustain their businesses and fulfill their passions.


About Higher Purpose Co

Higher Purpose Co (HPC) is a 501(c)3 economic justice nonprofit founded in 2016. HPC’s mission is to build community wealth with Black residents in Mississippi by supporting the ownership of financial, cultural and political power. Its theory of change is anchored in an integrated model of asset building, narrative change and advocacy. It uses solutions-based organizing and community wealth building to unapologetically tackle generational poverty, structured inequality and institutional racism in its state. To learn more about HPC, go to HigherPurposeCo.org.

About Communities Unlimited, Inc.

Communities Unlimited Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1975 that works side-by-side with businesses, communities and families in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas to create fair access to resources to sustain healthy businesses, healthy communities and healthy families. CU takes a community-based, regional approach to solving the challenges that threaten communities’ survival. Find more information at www.CommunitiesU.org.

About RSF Social Finance

RSF Social Finance offers innovative opportunities to invest, give and get funding that generates positive social, economic and ecological impact. Its Women’s Capital Collaborative, which funds women-owned businesses and social enterprises that benefit girls and women, has made $2.2 million in loans, loan guarantees and grants through March of 2020. Since 1984, RSF has made over $700 million in loans, grants and investments supporting social enterprises in the areas of food and agriculture, education and the arts, and ecological stewardship. Find out more about how RSF connects social entrepreneurs with diverse forms of capital. Follow @RSFSocFinance.

Media Contacts

Higher Purpose Co: Jarquita Brown, Communications and Development Coordinator

jarquita@higherpurposeco.org | 662-588-7204

Communities Unlimited: Metta Smith, Communications Coordinator

metta.smith@CommunitiesU.org | O: 479-443-2700 | M: 479-313-4567

RSF Social Finance: Sarah Grolnic-McClurg, Thinkshift Communications

sarah@thinkshiftcom.com | O: 510-898-1837 | M: 415-828-3143


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