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Barclays commits $1M to minority business growth

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Barclays Bank has committed $1 million toward a United Way of Delaware program to provide financial coaching for minority-owned small businesses. | DBT FILE PHOTO

WILMINGTON – Minority-owned small businesses have a new opportunity to learn and grow via a $1 million donation by Barclays to a joint program by United Way of Delaware (UWDE) and the state of Delaware.

The funds from the international bank’s Wilmington-based U.S. operations will launch the Stand By Me Minority Small Business program, which will provide free financial coaching and business support services aimed at increasing market share and revenue for up to 50 Delaware minority-owned small businesses in underserved communities. Barclays is also funding grants, ranging from $3,000 to $9,000, to participants that meet milestones in the year-long program.

Barclays’ donation is part of its investment plan to meet the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a federal law that encourages banks to reinvest in the communities they serve, a practice taken into consideration with bank branch growth and mergers and acquisitions requiring regulatory approval. The CRA was passed in the ‘70s to reduce discriminatory credit practices against low-income neighborhoods, a practice known as redlining.

“Minority-owned small businesses, especially Black and Latinx business owners, face many financial challenges, which have been exposed and accelerated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Adam Ahmad, CRA officer at Barclays US Consumer Bank, in a statement. “Through Barclays’ CRA plan, we strive to change the landscape and close the wealth gap amongst our minority population by giving back to the communities where we live, work and serve.”

During the year-long program, participants will work with a financial coach to sharpen their business management practices, learn how to grow market share, and improve their opportunities to access capital. Together they will establish goals and timelines for improving operations and strengthening financial performance, officials said.

The Stand By Me program will depend upon the UWDE to provide its expertise in helping people improve their finances. For a decade, the UWDE has helped families become financially stable by providing coaching and education to resolve debt and improve savings through its original Stand By Me program in partnership with the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services.

With more than 80% of Delaware minority-owned small businesses reportedly having less than 20 employees, UWDE’s Stand By Me coaching model has been modified to include specific business management, market development and capital access tools for small businesses.

Michele Taylor
President & CEO
United Way of Delaware

“On top of the normal challenges of starting or growing a small business, minority business owners face many barriers that make achieving success all the more difficult,” UWDE President and CEO Michelle A. Taylor in a statement. “This new Stand By Me Minority Small Business program is built on 10 years of success and is designed specifically to help minority business owners overcome these challenges. But our goal is bigger than helping individual business owners achieve success; we want to build a cohort of successful minority small business owners across the community, and encourage these business owners to inspire others in their communities to do the same.”

Gov. John Carney and U.S. Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons all applauded Barclays’ investment in the program, saying it will help foster greater entrepreneurial success in the First State while also helping to address the racial wealth gap by infusing equity into underserved communities.

“Supporting minority-owned small businesses in Delaware will help create good-paying jobs and strengthen our economy,” Carney said in a statement. “These new resources will help eliminate systemic barriers to capital so that entrepreneurs can grow and thrive here in Delaware.”

Eligible Delaware minority small business owners can learn more about the program and apply through May 15, or until 50 program applications have been accepted, by visiting StandByMeDE.org.

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