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Small and Minority Business Opportunity Workstream

Project REACh: Removing Barriers to Financial Inclusion

Small businesses drive innovation and competitiveness. They account for 44 percent of the nation’s economic activity, and create two-thirds of new jobs and generate employment opportunities for economically disadvantaged communities. However, this overall share has declined gradually. Through Project REACh, we are structuring new strategies to increase investments into America’s economic engines.
— Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael J. Hsu

Small businesses employ nearly half of all U.S. workers and are an important source of innovation, wealth creation, and job creation in communities across the nation. Minority-owned businesses represent a very modest share of small businesses nationwide.

As a group, minority-and women-owned businesses have more difficulty than other peer groups accessing small business credit because of the relative thinness of their credit files and lower average credit scores. They often cannot qualify for bank loans, and instead use their consumer credit cards to launch and even grow their businesses.

What We Do

Small businesses serve as engines for the economy, but resources to support their expansion are limited. Project REACh focuses on collaborative efforts to build and support entrepreneurs by offering technical assistance and procurement opportunities to minority-owned businesses and minority entrepreneurs from rural and Native communities. The Project REACh Small and Minority Business Opportunity Workstream is working to:

  • Increase procurement opportunities within the financial services industry for minority- and women-owned businesses.
  • Increase investments and financing for small businesses through collaborative approaches.
  • Provide support for Native, rural, and agricultural businesses.
  • Develop and provide a technical assistance curriculum supporting entrepreneurial and small business development and growth.

What We’ve Done

The Small and Minority Business Workstream participants have increased investments and financing to small and minority-owned businesses by:

  • Creating and offering virtual procurement showcases for minority-owned enterprises and minority entrepreneurs from underserved communities to build better business relationships and provide opportunities for growth and expansion.
  • Establishing special purpose credit programs for minority-, women-, and veteran-owned small businesses.
  • Assessing alternative data sources to develop new credit underwriting models for small business lending.

Where We’re Going

The Project REACh Small and Minority Business Workstream is evaluating models and strategies to improve access to capital for minority-owned and small businesses, and entrepreneurs from rural and Native communities. Current initiatives include:

  • Developing a consortium model for small business lending among minority depository institutions, community development financial institutions, and larger banks for agricultural businesses and emerging commercial enterprises and industries in rural and Native communities.
  • Developing a guide for entrepreneurs on resources available to establish a small business.
  • Establishing a special purpose credit program resource hub for small business lenders.