African American fund grows support of small business ownership

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Area African American Community Fund (SAAAACF) is contributing an additional $35,000 to LiftFund to promote and fund loans to African American small business owners and entrepreneurs in the San Antonio area.

The current gift adds to the $25,000 that the SAAAACF provided in 2017 as the inaugural gift to the Dream Makers Fund, a LiftFund initiative to close the capital lending gap in the African American community. The fund is intended to self-renew as entrepreneurs pay back the loan, creating a perpetual method of support for other small businesses in the community.

“Black-owned businesses struggle to get loans from traditional financial institutions,” said Bobby Blount, chair of the San Antonio Area African American Fund, a charitable fund hosted by the San Antonio Area Foundation. “Our fund intends to increase its support for the Dream Makers Fund year-over-year so that local entrepreneurs can remain financially stable and grow their businesses.”

The African American Fund’s funding partnership with LiftFund, a community small business lender, is part of a growing trend in philanthropy called impact investing where charitable institutions are investing in companies, organizations and funds to generate a social impact and financial return for the private sector borrower, the nonprofit lender, and the broader community. 

Here is how it works. LiftFund raises the capital through donors such as the San Antonio Area African American Fund. An African American small business owner applies for and receives a loan from LiftFund at an affordable interest rate. The loan is repaid, and interest revenue covers loan administration expenses and is also reinvested in the permanent revolving loan program, the Dream Makers Fund.

In addition to the financial contribution, SAAAACF’s partnership with LiftFund will strengthen Black-owned businesses through education opportunities and capacity building programs.

“Through the Dream Makers Fund, our donors like the SAAAACF, are able to see how their money is impacting our local economy by creating and retaining jobs in and for underserved communities,” said Janie Barrera, chief executive officer of LiftFund. “It is a win-win for everybody and a powerful marriage of economic empowerment and philanthropy.”

The results indicate the fund is making a difference, reporting that in just one quarter of 2019, 15 small business owners were provided coaching services, and another 47 with consultation and business services from LiftFund and its partners. Nearly a half-dozen businesses have been funded since the inception of the program, prompting the expansion to reach more entrepreneurs and continue the march toward equitable opportunities for business ownership. 

In addition to creating jobs, entrepreneurs donate 50 percent more to charity than non-business owners, according to a report by Fidelity Charitable.

“If we want to sustain nonprofit organizations in the future, then we should be expanding opportunities for small businesses today,” said Marjie M. French, president and CEO of the San Antonio Area Foundation. “We are proud to support the SAAAACF’s innovative and long-term approach to growing philanthropy in and for the African American community.”

Funding for the Dream Makers Fund, which has raised $1.5 million to date in San Antonio, Dallas and Houston, is provided to underserved small business owners in those target communities. Interested applicants can apply through LiftFund at

Coverage of this release has been published by KENS 5.

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