Small businesses make our communities vibrant; they sponsor our little leagues and soccer teams, they create a natural meeting place, they hire locally, and they are consistently investing in our communities by investing in themselves. The U.S. Small Business Administration says that 67 cents of every dollar spent at a small business goes back into the local community, as opposed to 45 cents when spent at a national chain. Small businesses are an engine to create financial sustainability and economic mobility, which can build wealth. However, wealth creation through business ownership is far less likely for Black and Latinx owners. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition has found that this is in large part due to the systemic barriers that these owners face—the markets they operate in, the business types they tend to run, the lack of initial wealth to start the business, and the reduced access to capital. We also know that these same barriers discourage people of color from starting businesses.
We applaud the recent shift in philanthropy to provide more investments to support this ecosystem. Eastern Bank Foundation has been making significant investments in advancing equity in the small business ecosystem since 2016, to help close these racial, gender, and socioeconomic gaps in our local economies and communities. We incubated the independent and award-winning non-profit, the Foundation for Business Equity, to focus on building capacity, access to growth capital and expanding business contracts among business owners of color. We have extended our support to the MA LGBT Business Network, the Center for Women in Enterprise, E-for-All, and others with similar ecosystem approaches because we know the trifecta of need is one of the biggest challenges for early-stage businesses. We are doubling down on building wealth for communities of color by advancing the growth of our small business ecosystem. We are doing this by focusing our philanthropic investments to support businesses owned by those from historically marginalized communities, which we define as including Black, Latinx, Asian, women, LGBTQ+, veterans, and people with disabilities.