Anne-Marie Saint-John, Alva, Long Island City, NY >
The universal law of cause and effect suggests that understanding the root causes of our social problems requires a reflection on history to find solutions that advance society. Morgan Freeman said it plainly: “I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.” We know that 57% of Black businesses qualify as at-risk or distressed, compared to 27% of their white counterparts. We know that small businesses in communities of color received COVID-19 relief funding at half the rate of white communities. We want to increase access to financial resources for Black entrepreneurs. In 2021, 66% of our entrepreneurs served were Black or Latinx. We can improve this level by initiating direct outreach to industries where Black entrepreneurship is highest. We want to simplify and accelerate access to funds by streamlining our processes and providing better solutions through new products, such as a line of credit. We want to measure progression across credit, cash flow, and financial health indicators to ensure our interventions lead to positive outcomes. To quote Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Yours in reflecting on history to do better,
Ascendus Disbursed $42M in Capital Last Year to Keep Businesses Open
2021 was an extraordinary year for Ascendus. We supported 10,490 small businesses nationwide, disbursing $41.9 million in loan capital to 2,138 individuals. Critically, this growth did not come at the expense of our mission and focus on under-resourced communities. 81% of our clients in 2021 were entrepreneurs of color, 66% were Black or Latinx, 63% were immigrants, and 45% were women.
Ascendus is Bringing the BTAD Pitch Room and $10,000 Prize to Miami
Ascendus will be collaborating with Sam Adams in the Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room. In a Shark Tank modeled experience, the Pitch Room will allow five food and beverage small businesses in the Miami-Dade area a chance to compete for a $10,000 prize and receive a year’s worth of professional coaching. Ascendus clients will participate in catering and competing in the event. Small businesses, partners, funders, and anyone from the Miami-Dade area is welcome to join and hear the pitches first-hand.
Ascendus Partners with Six Other Organizations to Launch the Miami-Dade Business Navigator
February 15th marked the official launch of the Miami-Dade Business Navigator, which is funded in part through a grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Through coordination and collaboration with six other organizations, Ascendus will create a cohesive ecosystem of support for small businesses. Through this program, Ascendus will provide small businesses in the Miami-Dade area with one-on-one consulting, training, business information, resources, and ensure that small and micro-businesses receive support and access to federal relief programs in response to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Celebrate Black History Month with the Ascendus Marketplace
This month, celebrate Black-owned small businesses through shopping at the Ascendus marketplace. The marketplace features 67 Ascendus clients and Black-owned businesses. Pictured above is Cynthia Sayblee Darsale, an Ascendus client featured on our marketplace. As a child in Liberia, West Africa, she would do her neighbor’s hair for fifty cents. When she enrolled in beauty school in America, she discovered the need for healthier ingredients in beauty products and was inspired to create safer alternatives, so she launched Sayblee Products.