N.J. Pandemic Relief Fund giving $4.5M in grants to organizations helping minority- and women-owned businesses

Grameen America ($2.5M), N.J. Community Capital ($1M), Greater Newark Enterprises Corp. ($500K) and Rising Tide Capital ($500K) all receiving funding

The New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund is investing $4.5 million to help women- and minority-owned businesses devastated by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, it announced Wednesday.

The funds are being directed to four organizations that have a long track record of serving women- and minority-owned businesses: Grameen America, Greater Newark Enterprises Corp., New Jersey Community Capital and Rising Tide Capital.

The organizations were selected based on their ability to address the needs of a wide spectrum of small businesses and entrepreneurs — from women-owned microbusinesses to enterprises with up to 75 employees.

First lady Tammy Murphy, the founding chair of NJPRF, said the grants are another example of how the group looks for areas where it can do the most good.

“The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately devastated women- and minority-owned small businesses across New Jersey,” she said. “We are hopeful this funding will provide these businesses with access to capital, technical assistance, financial coaching and education.”

A June 2020 report by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 41% of Black-owned businesses and 32% of businesses owned by Hispanics have been shuttered by COVID-19, compared to just 17% of white-owned businesses.

Already facing an uphill battle and reeling from decades of structural inequities, small businesses owned by Blacks and Latinx were at an inherent disadvantage when seeking to qualify for Small Business Administration-administered relief-programs such as the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

NJPRF CEO Josh Weinreich said the four organizations were selected because of their capacity, knowledge of New Jersey, cultural competence and track record of serving women- and minority-owned businesses in the state.

“Many small businesses face challenges accessing financial capital, and these challenges are amplified for women and minority-owned businesses,” Weinreich said. “These four organizations will be critical partners to help get these small businesses back on their feet and stronger than before the pandemic.”

The grants to small business organizations are the latest investment by NJPRF to help New Jersey recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. NJPRF has raised $40 million from 60,850 donors and distributed over $34 million to date to more than 460 organizations in New Jersey. NJPRF continues to raise funds, and donors can contribute by visiting the NJPRF website.

A look at the organizations:

Grameen America: It will receive $2.5 million to create a new branch to serve the Trenton and Camden communities. The organization already has branches in Newark and Union City to serve North Jersey.

Grameen America will commit to leveraging an additional $8 million in funding from its national and local partners, bringing the total investment to $10.5 million.

Founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus, Grameen America serves low-income, primarily minority, female entrepreneurs for whom the mainstream financial system is currently out of reach. The organization provides its clients with access to capital through microloans; financial education, training and peer support; credit-building; and asset-building.

New Jersey Community Capital: NJCC will receive $1 million that will be used to help minority-owned small businesses and enterprises. The funds will support the Black Business Enterprise Capital Program, a new collaborative initiative that includes the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.

The BBECP is a statewide revolving loan program that will provide high-touch and individualized technical assistance and critical capital to address both the emergent and longer-term business financing needs of minority-owned businesses.

Greater Newark Enterprises Corp.: The GNEC, which is receiving $500,000 from NJPRF, provides finances and nurtures micro/small businesses from disadvantaged communities in Essex, Hudson, Passaic, Bergen, Union, Monmouth and Middlesex counties.

The organization provides loans of up to $100,000 for fixed terms of up to five years and can offer larger loans in partnership with banking partners. GNEC also provides counseling and technical assistance to businesses at all stages of development.

Rising Tide Capital: It is receiving $500,000 from NJPRF. Established in 2004, the Jersey City-based organization helps entrepreneurs from historically marginalized populations and communities to start and grow successful businesses.

Rising Tide operates the Community Business Academy, a 12-week course that offers hands-on training in business planning and management. The grant will be targeted to support entrepreneurs in Camden, Jersey City, Newark, New Brunswick, Paterson and Trenton.