Ebony JJ Curry
Oct. 27, 2023
The Economic Opportunity Coalition (EOC), comprised of nearly 30 private sector companies and foundations, is making notable strides to support small Black businesses. Ahead of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s annual Freedman’s Bank Forum, they’ve expressed intentions to secure $3 billion in deposits for community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and minority depository institutions (MDIs). Historically, these institutions have been pivotal in serving marginalized communities, especially those in rural and low-income areas.
Vice President Kamala Harris has voiced her perspective on the need for companies in sectors like semiconductor manufacturing, clean energy, and biomanufacturing to diversify their supply chains. By 2025, she suggests that these industries could benefit from having at least 15% of their contract spending directed toward small and underserved businesses.
Stepping into this vision, companies such as Micron, Air Products, and Xcel Energy have announced their plans to commit to this approach. Their engagement doesn’t stop at funding; they’re also offering technical support, helping potential suppliers from underserved communities to understand and navigate the intricacies of the business world.
Furthermore, Google has indicated plans to allocate at least $1 billion annually to diverse-owned suppliers in the United States. Such investments can pave the way for a broader and more diverse supplier base, potentially offering new perspectives and innovative solutions.
Supporting and funding Black-owned businesses is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it contributes to rectifying historical economic injustices and systemic disparities that have disproportionately affected Black entrepreneurs and communities. These businesses often serve as vital anchors in their neighborhoods, providing goods, services, and employment opportunities that might otherwise be unavailable. Furthermore, fostering diversity in the business landscape spurs innovation by introducing varied perspectives and experiences, enriching the marketplace with a broader range of products and services. By investing in Black-owned enterprises, we not only promote economic equity and social justice but also drive regional economic growth, creating a more inclusive and resilient economy for everyone.
Earlier in the year, the EOC had achieved their objective from the prior Freedman’s Bank Forum by securing $1 billion in deposits for CDFIs and MDIs. Their recent announcement signifies a notable increase from their previous commitment, suggesting that more resources could be made available to the underserved communities.
In collaboration with the EOC, the Treasury Department is aiming to optimize the impact of their investments, especially in communities looking to establish a foundation for sustainable economic growth. The Department’s extensive investment in CDFIs and MDIs through programs such as the Emergency Capital Investment Program aligns with EOC’s endeavors. Such initiatives enhance the ability of CDFIs and MDIs to offer loans, grants, and other financial services, particularly benefiting minority-owned businesses and individuals in underserved communities.