[ Article originally appeared in https://sfmayor.org ]
51 businesses awarded under the African American Small Business Revolving Loan Fund will have their loans forgiven
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), Main Street Launch, and the San Francisco Foundation today announced an investment of $2.3 million to the African American Revolving Loan Fund (AARLF) to provide loan forgiveness for 51 businesses in San Francisco. The historic fund was established by Mayor Breed in June 2020, to address the perilous position of many Black-owned and Black-serving San Francisco businesses resulting from the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic.
“The pandemic and the recent Omicron-fueled surge have had a significant impact on our City’s small businesses, especially our Black-owned businesses,” said Mayor Breed. “As we look towards strengthening our economic recovery, it is critical that we focus on equity-based solutions that serve communities that have historically lacked opportunity. By forgiving these loans, we allow neighborhood and cultural institutions and Black business owners, especially those who were born and raised in our City, to come back from COVID stronger than ever before.”
AARLF funds have been prioritized for San Francisco Black-owned and Black-serving businesses, especially those most impacted by COVID-19, including hair salons, barbershops, restaurants, gyms, performing artists, and other personal services. The businesses were able to use the funds toward rent, payroll, equipment and machinery, inventory, furniture and fixtures, tenant improvements, and COVID-19 related expenses including marketing and improving online presence and reopening costs. The loan funds forgiven will go to a range of business types including 25 women-owned businesses and 29 long standing businesses, and will support an estimated 116 jobs.
“Black-owned and Black-serving businesses are essential to our City’s ongoing cultural and economic vitality. These restaurants, hair salons, fitness studios, bike shops, and other businesses support and anchor our Black communities as important social and economic hubs,” said Kate Sofis, the Executive Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “We honor our Black business this Black History Month and recognize their contributions by investing in their futures and long- term economic recovery.”
The loan forgiveness is made possible through the continued support of the San Francisco Foundation and the generosity of Aneel Bhusri, Chief Executive Officer of Workday. This investment will not only bring peace of mind and stability for Black-owned businesses in San Francisco, but it will allow for the funds to revolve and go back into the community by making $1.3 million in additional capital available in the form of zero interest loans to Black-owned and Black-serving businesses in the City.
“The San Francisco Foundation and our donors are committed to supporting Black businesses that have been systemically excluded from accessing capital,” said Fred Blackwell, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation. “This fund will help Black residents build their wealth, and when Black, Indigenous, and people-of-color communities thrive, we all thrive.”
AARLF was created in June 2020 in partnership with the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce and community lending partner Main Street Launch as part of the City’s comprehensive COVID-19 response for small businesses. The purpose of the fund was to help stabilize San Francisco’s Black-owned and Black-serving small businesses by meeting urgent capital needs brought on by sudden revenue loss from business disruption resulting from COVID-19. The program offered zero interest loans of up to $50,000 for qualifying businesses.
“As a recipient of the African American Revolving Loan Fund, I was grateful then and am even more thankful and grateful now that my business was picked for full loan forgiveness as of Tuesday, February the 1st. It brought me to tears; what a blessing,” said Bridget Miller, owner of Diamond Hair Studio in the Ingleside District.
“I couldn’t believe the news when I heard it, and words can’t express how grateful I am for the Donor’s generosity. COVID-19 has had a huge impact on my beauty salon and the African American Revolving Loan Fund has helped pave a path towards recovery,” said Cheree Scarborough, Phenix Hair Designs. “I want to thank Mayor London Breed, the Foundation, and City Partners for creating programs like this.”
“This forgiveness means a lot as someone that grew up in San Francisco. Now that the barbershop is redone, I have a nice place for my customers to relax. It is hard to put into words what this means. Some of my customers have been coming here since the 90s. As a Black man to own a business it means a lot when people ask me where I work and I tell them I am self-employed, and they are surprised to hear I own my shop,” said Lloyd Lacy Jr., owner of Lacy’s Barber Shop. “When I got the call, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. If I could hug the Mayor I would. If it wasn’t for the help I received, I wouldn’t have been able to get my shop together with new floors, chairs, and windows.”
Mayor Breed and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development designed small business relief programs with equity at their center. Since the beginning of the pandemic, San Francisco has invested over $63 million in grants and loans to support more than 3,000 small businesses. The investments reflect the City’s commitment to ensuring a more equitable recovery and inclusive future economy. For more information about the City’s financial relief and assistance efforts to date, please visit www.oewd.org