Business owners of all sizes and stages can benefit from mentorship to help them navigate the path to entrepreneurship. For Black, Hispanic and Latino entrepreneurs in particular, access to a mentor can be the difference between success and failure given the unique set of barriers they often face when it comes to raise capital, acquire resources, get educated and even find the right networking opportunities.
More than half of the 2 million new businesses created in the United States over the past decade are minority-owned. Yet few have access to a mentor who can help them grow, both personally and professionally. That’s why Chase for Business created a mentorship program to provide minority-owned small business owners with free one-on-one coaching, banking and credit solutions, community resources, and year-round training. Since its launch in 2020, the initiative has created an opportunity for 1,500 entrepreneurs in more than 20 U.S. cities while reaching more than 30,000 diverse business owners through targeted educational events, community workshops, and local networks. This effort is part of a multi-year, $30 billion company-wide commitment to help businesses, families and local economies that have traditionally been excluded from opportunities to create and sustain generational wealth.
To celebrate Black Business Month, we caught up with Mikal Quarles, Managing Director and Head of Chase for Business Racial Equity Strategies, to learn more about how Chase supports minority entrepreneurs and their communities.
How do racial inequalities in the United States affect minority small businesses and their potential for business growth?
Skittles: Structural barriers in the United States have created racial inequalities that have been further exacerbated by COVID. In fact, black business ownership fell by more than 40% in the first three months of the pandemic — the biggest decline of any ethnic group. Although there are a number of factors contributing to the decline, the history of structural barriers encountered in minority communities has created a complex challenge. Often, minority entrepreneurs may not have had the best relationship with a bank or had no relative or loved one to seek entrepreneurship advice – the list goes on.
Based on what we are seeing now, the pandemic and resulting economic pressures continue to underscore the value of a business mentor in helping Black business owners navigate existing and new challenges, such as the debt management, capital raising, supply chain disruptions, record-high inflation and persistent labor shortages. Our Chase Small Business Survey found that the majority (70%) of small business owners are interested in mentoring; however, less than half (48%) feel they have someone to turn to for business advice.
How does Chase’s new program help minority small business owners meet these challenges?
Skittles: We’re building the infrastructure to help more minority-owned businesses grow and recover through new programs, products, and hiring. We started with a free mentorship program for small businesses in 13 US cities with larger black, Hispanic, and Latino populations. Through this initiative, entrepreneurs work with seasoned Chase Certified Business Consultants to access the capital, education and resources necessary for their growth and sustainability.
Today, we have over 40 senior business consultants in 21 US cities whose job it is to mentor and coach approximately 50 small business owners at any one time so they can better run their businesses. The vast majority of small businesses that enroll in the program identify business development, understanding working capital and operational support as their top needs to become more efficient. Our goal is to build trust, deepen relationships with these business owners, help them with a specific problem, and then graduate them in three to six months with the goal of building them into customers. And what’s great is that they are still part of this larger network even after graduation.
The goal of this program is to fill a knowledge and education gap for Black and Latino small business owners that will fuel lasting success and lead to generational wealth in predominantly Black and Latino communities.
Our long-term success is intrinsically tied to the success of the businesses we support. In just two years, we’ve impacted the lives of 1,500 minority-owned small business owners in 21 cities, helped them improve their operations, plan for financial growth, and access networking opportunities to help them grow their business. We’ve helped these entrepreneurs not only dream big, but also ensure they have the resources to do bigger things.
Can you give specific examples of how this program has helped Black and Hispanic-owned small businesses?
Skittles: We’ve seen and heard from some truly remarkable business owners in the first two years of this program, and we’ve been amazed at the success we can achieve together, regardless of size, stage or industry.
We’ve helped companies, like Los Angeles-based KINEMECHA, achieve its Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification, which gives them greater access to private and government contracting opportunities. We’ve supported businesses, like Pretty Brown Girl in Detroit and Multi Print USA in Houston, with administrative support and financial management. And we’ve helped companies, like GoLogic Solutions in Chicago, diversify their revenue streams and pivot during the pandemic.
In short, we’ve seen first-hand businesses grow from $100,000 to $3 million in revenue in 18 months with goals to reach $10 million by year three. Business owners will be the first to tell you that their success would not be possible without the incredible support of senior business consultants who continue to provide their advice and expertise in a difficult economic landscape.
August is black business month. How can people learn more about how Chase supports black business owners?
Skittles: We have a number of programs and initiatives that directly engage the Black community, including the Chase Mentorship Program, Advancing Black Pathways, and the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund. In honor of Black Business Month, we’ve also compiled a list of black-owned businesses for consumers to consider buying and supporting this month and beyond.
Click here to learn more about all the ways Chase supports minority small business owners. JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA Member FDIC.
This post was created by Chase Business with Insider Studios.