JPMorgan Chase and two partners added $6.65 million into a fund that offers loans to non-white business owners as the Wall Street bank’s program to support minority entrepreneurs expands into the Washington, D.C., region.
Capital Impact Partners and A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation together donated $3 million of the total, according to a statement issued Monday. JPMorgan’s four-year-old Entrepreneurs of Color Fund will use the money to make loans in and around the capital, from Baltimore to Northern Virginia.
Non-white small-business owners face investor bias, are more likely to be denied credit and are more wary of even applying for a loan — thinking that it would probably be denied. In the Washington area, the roadblocks can prevent minority companies from winning federal-government contracts or working with professional-services firms and other large institutions.
“If you’re an entrepreneur with barriers, you’re not able to participate in that sort of shared growth,” said Ted Archer, who manages the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund, which is part of the bank’s larger $150 million Small Business Forward initiative to help women, minority and veteran business owners.
The program seeks to support minority small-business owners, including those who are black, Latino or Asian. With about $40 million in capital, including more than $17 million from JPMorgan, the fund has operated in Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco and the South Bronx, New York. Since 2015, JPMorgan has provided about 200 loans through the program with just one default, Archer said.
As JPMorgan dedicates more capital to people of color, it contends with in-house diversity issues. Big Wall Street banks saw their percentage of black employees in the U.S. decline in recent years. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon pledged in 2016 that the bank would “dramatically step up” efforts to hire more black workers.
JPMorgan on Monday also announced Advancing Black Pathways, an initiative to boost economic opportunities for African-Americans. It will focus on job training, career-leadership pathways and wealth building. The bank said it plans to announce related programs in coming months.
The advisory council for Advancing Black Pathways includes former secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, Ariel Investments’ Mellody Hobson and entertainer Kevin Hart.
“Making the economy work for more people is not only a moral obligation — it is a business imperative,” Dimon said in the statement.
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