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VP Harris and Treasury announced $8.7B in investments for small and minority-owned businesses

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen and Vice President Kamala Harris announced the release of $8.7 billion in investments through the Emergency Capital Investment Program (ECIP) to help increase lending to small and minority-owned businesses and people living in underserved communities with limited access to banking, The Associated Press reported. 

The funds from the ECIP will go to 186 community-based financial institutions. ECIP enables the Treasury to make direct investments in banks, credit unions and holding companies that are designated as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) or a Minority Depository Institution (MDI).

Institutions headquartered in 36 states, as well as Guam and Washington, D.C. will be recipients of the deployed $8.7 billion. States with the largest number of institutions being offered ECIP investments include Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina, California, and Texas. Among the institutions recommended for an ECIP investment, approximately 54% are banks and 46% are credit unions. The ECIP investments will range, depending on the size of the institution, from over $200 million to less than $100,000. Of the funds, a total of $3.1 billion is being offered to 57 minority depository institutions.  

US Department of the Treasury, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

“We know that the communities hurt most by COVID-19 have often been communities of color, and Treasury has implemented relief legislation with equity in mind,” said Secretary Janet L. Yellen in a press release Tuesday. “Today, we’re seeing one result of that effort: Treasury, through the Emergency Capital Investment Program, is injecting nearly $9 billion into Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions.”

According to the Associated Press, “Black Americans represent 13.4% of the U.S. population, yet Federal Reserve figures show they control just 4.3% of household wealth and more than half of Black household wealth is in the form of pension entitlements, which cannot be passed along to future generations.” 

The racial divide and these inequities in wealth have contributed to many of the hardships people of color face when applying for loans, mortgages, and other financial assistance. ECIP investments will help in bridging this gap by supporting  mission-motivated institutions to increase responsible investments in low- and moderate-income and minority communities that have disproportionately suffered from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a moderated conversation at the Freedman’s Bank Forum, Vice President Kamala Harris addressed these inequities stating, “Here’s what I know to be true: America is a nation that is driven by the ambition and the aspirations of her people.  But I also know that, in America today, deep racial disparities continue to hold people back from achieving all they can.

“Today, the wealth gap persists.  Today, the homeownership gap persists.  Today, access to capital is unequal.  As one example, Black entrepreneurs are three times more likely to report that a lack of access to capital negatively affects their profit margins. 

“I believe that the actions we are taking and must take to address these disparities will define our nation’s strength and economic strength in the 21st century.”

Deadline approaching: Apply for the COVID-19 small business Economic Injury Disaster Loan

The COVID-19 EIDL is a federal small business loan program that supports small businesses’ recovery from COVID-19’s economic impacts by providing accessible and borrower-friendly capital. The program is open to small business owners, including agricultural businesses, and nonprofit organizations in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories. 

“The SBA’s COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan program offers a lifeline to millions of small businesses who are still being impacted by the pandemic,” SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said in a press release

The loan comes directly from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and must be repaid. It is a low-interest, fixed-rate, long-term loan to help businesses overcome the effects of the pandemic by providing working capital to meet operating expenses. 

Proceeds can be used to make regular payments for operating expenses, including payroll, rent/mortgage, utilities, and other ordinary business expenses, and to pay business debt incurred at any time (past, present, or future). 

EIDL Updates 

The SBA announced the following updated guidance for COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program applicants to better serve small business owners in need, while funding remains available:

  • EIDL loan and Targeted Advance applications will be accepted until December 31 and will continue to be processed after this date until funds are exhausted.
  • Supplemental Targeted Advance applications will be accepted until December 31; however, the SBA may be unable to process some Supplemental Targeted Advance applications submitted near the December 31 deadline due to legal requirements. The SBA cannot continue to process Supplemental Targeted Advance applications after December 31 and strongly encourages eligible small businesses to apply by December 10 to ensure adequate processing time.
  • Borrowers can request increases up to their maximum eligible loan amount for up to two years after their loan origination date, or until the funds are exhausted, whichever is soonest.
  • The SBA will accept and review reconsideration and appeal requests for COVID EIDL applications received on or before December 31 if the reconsideration/appeal is received within the timeframes in the regulation. This means six months from the date of decline for reconsiderations and 30 days from the date of reconsideration decline for appeals – unless funding is no longer available.

“The COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs still have billions of dollars available to help small businesses hard hit by the pandemic. More than 3.8 million businesses employing more than 20 million people have found financial relief through SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans,” said Patrick Kelley, Associate Administrator for SBA’s Office of Capital Access in a press release

To apply, visit www.sba.gov/eidl to learn more about eligibility and application requirements. The application deadline is December 31, 2021. To learn more about the EIDL and other SBA programs, see here.

Support your local Latina businesses this Small Business Saturday #ShopSmall

Tomorrow marks the 12th annual Small Business Saturday — a day to celebrate and support small businesses in our communities. Founded by American Express in 2010 and officially cosponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) since 2011, Small Business Saturday takes place annually on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, encouraging consumers to #ShopSmall and support the nation’s 32 million independent businesses as part of their holiday shopping sprees. 

This year, more than ever, supporting our small businesses is crucial. After over a year of setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many small businesses are still struggling. As businesses rebuild and pivot post-pandemic, holiday shoppers can help by choosing to shop small, both locally and virtually, rather than at a big name retailer.

According to the 2020 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey commissioned by American Express, spending among U.S. consumers who shopped small on the holiday reached an estimated $19.8 billion. Additionally, the survey found that 97% of shoppers recognized the positive impacts of shopping small and 85% reported they have encouraged others to #ShopSmall as well.   

How to support your local small businesses 

Go On A Small Business Shopping Spree – Avid holiday shippers know all about Black Friday and many will make a day of it, going on a shopping spree with friends and family to get the best deals and discounts. Small businesses often offer similar sales on Small Business Saturday. Like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you and your family can go on a local shopping spree to support the small businesses in your community. Consider the items you would like to purchase for the holidays and find small businesses that sell them instead of simply going to big name retail stores. 

Spread the Word – Use social media and word of mouth to help promote the small businesses in your area. Many small businesses do not have the luxury to create large marketing campaigns and promotions the way big retailers can. Instead, most rely on word of mouth and local advertisement. By simply spreading the word about a small business you are helping them grow and thrive. After your local shopping spree, spend some time sharing your favorite locations with others and also consider leaving them an online review about your experience!  

Keep it Up Year Round – Small Business Saturday is only one day out of the year, but it’s a good time to introduce yourself to the small businesses in your area. After the holiday, keep up your support year round. You don’t need to wait until next year to continue to #ShopSmall! 

Latinas are Back in Business! 

Want to continue supporting Latina small business owners and entrepreneurs? Join us for Latina In Business’s annual silent auction December 8th

The free virtual event will include a LIVE Streaming session where female founders will share the struggles they faced during the pandemic and how they not only survived but also thrived! 

The Silent Auction page includes donations from major sponsors and also, high-end female brands including Renovad Experiential Retreats, Fashion Designers of Latin America, Stuyvesant Champagne, Villakuyaya Gourmet Chocolates, and many more. The lowest bid starts at $15 but viewing of the Silent Auction Page is free to all who register.  

By bidding, you will be helping support female founders while entering for a chance to win big prizes! See here to register now. 

crowdfunding

How women-led companies can raise more money through crowdfunding

Ramy Elitzur, Associate Professor of Financial Analysis at University of Toronto, shares how women-led businesses can use crowdfunding to launch their startups. 

For a new venture to get off the ground, entrepreneurs require resources and support that greatly enhance the likelihood of its success. Unfortunately, there is still a gender gap in entrepreneurship that means women don’t get the same access to those resources.

In fact, while women make up 51 per cent of the global workforce, their representation as entrepreneurs, according to global crowdfunding statistics, is only 39.5 per cent.

To address this gap, entrepreneurship researcher Eliran Solodoha of Ben Gurion University and I conducted a study in which we analyzed 2,275 rewards-based crowdfunding projects to investigate the impact of the presence of women entrepreneurs and the effects of social validation on their fundraising efforts.

Social validation is a psychological phenomenon in which passive people follow or conform to the actions of others within a group. For example, people are more likely to stop at restaurants with many cars parked outside than those with few cars. Extending this idea to crowdfunding, investors are more likely to commit funds to projects with large numbers of backers and shy away from those with few.

Startups are increasingly turning to crowdfunding to raise financing for their companies. In rewards-based crowdfunding, entrepreneurs seek financing from investors in return for a product or service.

Social validation, crowdfunding success

Social validation is powerful and provides insights into the every-day behaviour of people. For example, research shows that because of social validation, people will often pick an incorrect answer on a vision test — even whey though they know it’s wrong — to conform to the others who publicly picked it.

Additional research shows that participants who read a blog post with fake comments supporting a volunteer activity agree to volunteer for more hours than those who read the same blog with fictitious comments rejecting it.

In a similar manner, potential investors may consider a business venture more attractive when they see others reacting favourably to it.

One of the problems facing women entrepreneurs is that that the entrepreneur’s role is stereotypically viewed as masculine. Consequently, women-led firms face more financing barriers compared to those helmed by men. The question we focused on is whether social validation — specifically, the number of crowdfunding supporters — can reduce the gender gap as companies helmed by women try to raise funds.

We conducted our analysis using standard statistical methods as well as machine learning algorithms that provided a clearer picture of the behaviour of crowdfunding investors.

The importance of crowdfunding backers

Our results showed that, as expected, the fact that a company is led by a woman works against it when it comes to raising financing through crowdfunding. However, our results demonstrated that women-helmed companies can overcome this obstacle and obtain crowdfunding support using social validation.

In other words, if they attract supporters, they can obtain even more supporters. The practical implication is that female entrepreneurs should strive to generate initial support, for example, by raising as much financing as possible at first from their own networks.

Another form of social validation involves the number of comments on a crowdfunding campaign, which can demonstrate the size and scope of an entrepreneur’s social networks — again a positive sign for potential investors.

Our machine learning algorithms also demonstrated that while social validation helps women entrepreneurs obtain financing, it peaks at a certain level. The results show that social validation will increase the probability of crowdfunding success by 14.5 per cent overall in combination with all other variables that include geographic location, the category the venture is in (health, music or food, for example) and prior entrepreneurial experience.

The lack of resources and support for women entrepreneurs lowers their chances of success, and ultimately leads to the under-representation of companies led by women. As we show in our study, this problem can be partially overcome in crowdfunding initiatives by socially validating female-led ventures.The Conversation

You might be interested: Why more minority founders aren’t backed by venture capital funding


Ramy Elitzur, Associate Professor, Financial Analysis, University of Toronto

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Excluded New Jerseyans Fund to provide pandemic-related financial aid to undocumented individuals (read in English and Spanish) 

Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman announced that applications for the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund (ENJF) cash assistance program are now open to eligible individuals who want to apply for the financial benefit.

The $40 million ENJF program will provide a one-time, direct cash benefit to eligible households that suffered an economic hardship due to COVID-19 and were excluded from for federal stimulus checks and COVID-19 related unemployment assistance.           

This includes undocumented individuals, residents returning from the justice system, and any other individuals otherwise excluded from pandemic-related financial help.

Households with annual incomes of up to $55,000 with a documented hardship or lost income due to COVID-19 can apply for this assistance. Eligible applicants will receive a benefit of up to $1,000 per eligible individual and a max of $2,000 per household.

Eligible individuals can go to ExcludedNJFund.nj.gov .

Sarah Adelman, Acting Commissioner (Photo source)

Applications will be processed in the order they are received and until funds are exhausted.

The ENJF program is run by the Department’s Office of New Americans (ONA).

“Eligible individuals can now apply for the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund and start the process to get this critical assistance,” Acting Commissioner Adelman said. “If you did not receive federal stimulus checks and pandemic unemployment assistance, you may be eligible. If you were impacted by COVID and struggled to pay for basic needs including housing, you may be eligible. Visit our website, find out if you are eligible and apply today.”

“We are glad we can extend this assistance to individuals who need it,” Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira said. “Eligibility requirements are on the ExcludedNJFund.nj.gov website. If you know you qualify, the sooner you apply the better. We continue to encourage potential applicants to check if they are eligible and apply.” 

New Jersey is the seventh state to take this type of initiative, following California, Colorado, Washington, New York, New Mexico, and Oregon. It is expected that anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 people will participate in this program. 

The state of New Jersey is committed to helping all families rebuild post-pandemic, included undocumented individuals and others who did not previously receive pandemic benefits. 

“The Excluded New Jerseyans Fund builds on Governor Murphy’s commitment to create an economy that works for all New Jerseyans. COVID-19 impacted many New Jersey families but not all were able to receive federal COVID assistance and relief. This fund can help make up for that,” said Deputy Commissioner Neira. “We know that many families impacted by COVID-19 continue to need support. We encourage residents who think they may qualify for this one-time cash assistance program to check their eligibility and apply at ExcludedNJFund.NJ.gov

How to Apply

Applicants will have to submit supporting documents demonstrating:

  • Exclusion from federal COVID-19 stimulus checks and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance;
  • Annual household income;
  • Identification and residency; and
  • Financial hardship due to COVID-19 caused by lost income due to reduced hours/lay off, inability to work due to isolation/quarantine, or due to their child’s remote school learning schedule, illness and/or death due to COVID-19, or inability to pay bills due to loss of income.

Applicants will be able to submit their documents online through a document upload service where they can upload PDFs, screenshots, or images of the supporting documents. Applicants are encouraged to upload all or as many of the required documents as this will help their application move through the approval process faster.

While supporting documents such as proof of identity and eligibility will be requested as part of the application process, applicants will not be asked to submit data related to their place of birth, citizenship or immigration status.

Applications for the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund (ENJF) are now open. (Image via Instagram)

For a list of documents that may be used to prove eligibility, visit here.

Individuals will have to confirm their eligibility before they are able to start the application process. Eligibility requirements for the program may be found here.

Free application assistance is available. For a list of community organizations who can help with filling out the application and answer questions, visit here.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Eligible applicants can expect to receive their benefit within 2-3 weeks after being notified that they are eligible.

“This assistance will be available until funds run out so we urge individuals who meet the eligibility requirements for these benefits and who can provide the required documentation to apply soon starting today,” said ONA Director Johanna Calle.

You might be interested: Affordable, quality child care is top priority for NJ working families, says Commissioner Sarah Adelman 

En Español 

La comisionada interina de Servicios Humanos, Sarah Adelman, anunció que las solicitudes para el Fondo para Residentes de New Jersey Excluidos (ENJF, por sus siglas en inglés) ya están abiertas para las personas elegibles que quieran solicitar el beneficio financiero. 

El programa ENJF, dotado con $40 millones de dólares, proporcionará un beneficio directo en efectivo, de una sola vez, a los hogares que reúnan los requisitos necesarios y que hayan sufrido dificultades económicas debido a COVID-19, que hayan sido excluidos de los cheques de estímulo federal y de la ayuda al desempleo relacionada con COVID-19.          

Esto incluye a las personas indocumentadas, a los residentes que regresan del sistema judicial y a cualquier otra persona excluida de la ayuda financiera relacionada con la pandemia.

Los hogares con ingresos anuales de hasta $55.000 con una dificultad documentada o pérdida de ingresos debido a COVID-19 pueden solicitar esta ayuda. Los solicitantes elegibles recibirán un beneficio de hasta $1.000 por individuo elegible y un máximo de $2.000 por hogar. 

Los individuos elegibles pueden ir a la página ExcludedNJFund.nj.gov.

Las solicitudes se procesarán por orden de llegada y hasta que los fondos se agoten.

El programa ENJF es administrado por la Oficina de Nuevos Americanos (ONA, por sus siglas en inglés) del Departamento.

Elisa Neira, Deputy Commissioner (Photo source)

“Las personas elegibles ya pueden solicitar el Fondo para Residentes de New Jersey Excluidos (ENJF, por sus siglas en inglés) y comenzar el proceso para obtener esta asistencia crítica”, dijo la comisionada interina Adelman. “Si usted no recibió los cheques de estímulo federal y la asistencia de desempleo por pandemia, usted puede ser elegible. Si se vio afectado por COVID y tuvo dificultades para pagar las necesidades básicas, incluida la vivienda, usted puede ser elegible. Visite nuestra página web, averigüe si es elegible y solicite hoy mismo”.

“Estamos contentos de poder extender esta asistencia a las personas que lo necesiten”, dijo la Vicecomisionada Elisa Neira. “Los requisitos de elegibilidad están en la página web ExcludedNJFund.nj.gov. Si usted sabe que califica, cuanto antes lo solicite, mejor. Seguimos animando a los posibles solicitantes a que comprueben si son elegibles y presenten su solicitud.”

Nueva Jersey es el séptimo estado en tomar este tipo de iniciativas, después de California, Colorado, Washington, Nueva York, Nuevo México y Oregón. Se espera que entre 20.000 y 40.000 personas participen en este programa.

El estado de Nueva Jersey se compromete a ayudar a todas las familias a reconstruir después de la pandemia, incluidas las personas indocumentadas y otras que no habían recibido previamente los beneficios de la pandemia.

“El Fondo para Residentes de New Jersey Excluidos se basa en el compromiso del gobernador Murphy de crear una economía que funcione para todos los habitantes de Nueva Jersey. El COVID-19 afectó a muchas familias de Nueva Jersey, pero no todas pudieron recibir asistencia y alivio de COVID federal. Este fondo puede ayudar a compensar eso ”, dijo el Comisionado Adjunto Neira. “Sabemos que muchas familias afectadas por COVID-19 continúan necesitando apoyo. Alentamos a los residentes que piensan que pueden calificar para este programa de asistencia en efectivo por única vez a que verifiquen su elegibilidad y presenten una solicitud en ExcludedNJFund.NJ.gov ”.

Cómo Aplicar

Los solicitantes tendrán que presentar documentos justificativos que demuestren:

  •         Exclusión de los cheques federales de estímulo COVID-19 y de la asistencia de desempleo por pandemia;
  •         Ingresos anuales del hogar; 
  •         Identificación y que vive en NJ; y
  •         Dificultades financieras debidas a COVID-19 causadas por la pérdida de ingresos debido a la reducción de horas/descanso, la incapacidad para trabajar debido al aislamiento/cuarentena, o debido al horario de aprendizaje escolar a distancia de sus hijos, la enfermedad y/o la muerte debida a COVID-19, o la incapacidad para pagar las facturas debido a la pérdida de ingresos.

Los solicitantes podrán presentar sus documentos en línea a través de un servicio de carga de documentos en el que podrán cargar archivos PDF, capturas de pantalla o imágenes de los documentos justificativos. Se anima a los solicitantes a que suban todos los documentos requeridos, o los más que puedan, ya que esto ayudará a que su solicitud avance más rápido en el proceso de aprobación.

Aunque se pedirán documentos justificativos, como la prueba de identidad y la elegibilidad, como parte del proceso de solicitud, no se pedirá a los solicitantes que presenten datos relacionados con su lugar de nacimiento, ciudadanía o estatus migratorio. 

Las solicitudes para el Fondo para Residentes de New Jersey Excluidos ya están abiertas. (Imagen vía Instagram)

Para ver una lista de documentos que se pueden utilizar para demostrar la elegibilidad, visite aquí.

Las personas tendrán que confirmar su elegibilidad antes de poder iniciar el proceso de solicitud. Los requisitos de elegibilidad para el programa se pueden encontrar aquí.

Hay asistencia gratuita para la solicitud. Para ver una lista de organizaciones comunitarias que pueden ayudar a completar la solicitud y responder preguntas, visite aquí.

Las solicitudes se revisarán por orden de llegada. El tiempo de espera para recibir los beneficios es de 2 a 3 semanas después de que los solicitantes hayan sido notificados que son elegibles.

“Esta ayuda estará disponible hasta que los fondos se agoten, por lo que recomendamos a las personas que reúnan los requisitos para recibir estos beneficios y que puedan aportar la documentación requerida a que presenten su solicitud comenzando hoy”, dijo la directora de la ONA, Johanna Calle.

New York City is failing its minority- and women-owned businesses, annual report finds

Comptroller Stringer’s annual Making the Grade Report reveals that New York City fails to do business with more than 80 percent of minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE). 

The report, published annually since 2014 by the Office of the New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, evaluates the performance of the City’s MWBE program and makes recommendations for its improvement. 

This year’s report for the 2021 fiscal year found that out of $30.4 billion in contracts awarded by the City in 2021, only $1.166 billion (3.8 percent) was awarded to MWBEs. Since 2015, the share of MWBEs receiving City dollars has never exceeded 22 percent. The 2021 report also examined the rollout of Chief Diversity Officers across the country, following an Executive Order that called for appointing Chief Diversity Officers within every New York City agency. 

NYC receives “C-” overall, but fails in other areas 

Based on the report’s findings, Comptroller Stringer announced that the City fell to a “C-” Grade for MWBE Spending in fiscal year 2021 after two consecutive passing “C” grades. However, the city failed in other areas earning a “D” with Hispanic American- and women-owned businesses, and an “F” with African American-owned businesses. 

Additional Highlights 

  • The City has nearly tripled the number of certified MWBE firms since 2015. However, of more than 10,500 certified MWBEs, 8,886—84 percent—did not receive City spending in 2021. The share of certified MWBEs receiving City dollars has never exceeded 22 percent since 2015.
  • The City spent $1.27 billion with M/WBEs, an additional $261 million from 2020 and an increase of more than $900 million since 2014.
  • Since 2014, the City has improved its grades with Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and women-owned businesses, but it has been unable to improve its “F” grade with African American-owned businesses over the last eight years. In 2021, the City earned a “B” grade with Asian American-owned businesses. 
  • Two mayoral agencies: The Commission on Human Rights and Department for the Aging earned their fifth consecutive “A” grades; both spent more than 50 percent of their Local Law 1-eligible dollars with MWBEs.
  • The Department of Transportation received an “F” grade, spending less than five percent of its Local Law 1-eligible dollars with MWBEs.
  • The Comptroller’s Office earned its third consecutive “A” grade. Over the last eight years, the Comptroller’s Office increased its MWBE spending from 13 percent in 2013 to approximately 53 percent in 2021.
  • In 2020, Comptroller Stringer announced that the Office’s registration process would now include a rigorous review of MWBE goals on City contracts. Between November 2020 and May 2021, the Comptroller’s Office registered 63 contracts subject to Local Law 1. Of these, 42 contracts, or about 67 percent, had MWBE goals below 30 percent.

New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer (Photo Source)

Recommendations for incoming administration to increase opportunities for MWBEs

As the current administration prepares to leave office, Comptroller Stringer puts forth recommendations to reduce barriers and increase opportunities for MWBEs and urges the next cohort of citywide leadership to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion within their first 100 days of office.

“Over the last eight years, my office has given voice to solutions from MWBEs directly on how the City can better connect them with opportunities, which has led to real change. But there is still room for significant improvement,” said Comptroller Stringer. “As this administration prepares to leave office, it is clear that the City, from the next Mayor and Comptroller to the next City Council, have abundant opportunities to address the systemic inequities experienced by communities of color especially as we continue to rebuild our economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The first step is for all incoming Citywide officials to appoint executive-level Chief Diversity Officers. Per the report’s recommendations, “the mayoral CDO should oversee the rollout of the City’s programs designed to increase diversity and inclusion within the City, and they should also play a role in the City’s Budget and should have oversight over agency Chief Diversity Officers to ensure a unified citywide inclusion effort.” 

Next, City leaders should adopt the Rooney Rule to ensure diversity in their cabinets. The Rooney Rule, first adopted by the National Football League, requires that women and people of color are included in every future CEO search. 

Additionally, the next Comptroller should conduct a racial equity audit of the City’s agencies. With the signing of President Biden’s Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, all federal agencies have been mandated to perform an equity assessment to address systemic barriers erected by the government which have adversely impacted communities of color.

You might be interested: New America Alliance CEO Solange Brooks says, “Diversity is one of the elements of success”

Finally, Comptroller Stringer suggests that the next Mayor should create a plan to close the gap between certification and receiving City spending for MWBEs. In the last eight years, the list of certified MWBEs in the City has tripled from just 4,000 to almost 11,000 businesses. However, no more than 2,000 MWBEs have ever received City contract dollars in a given year. Within their first 100 days, the next Mayor should create a plan to close the gap between the number of people in the program and the number of MWBEs that win contracts.

Keep employees on the payroll with the Employee Retention Credit 

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on businesses over the past year and a half. Many have struggled through financial difficulties and have had to cut back on employees to stay afloat. To help struggling businesses recover, the Biden-Harris Administration created various recovery programs as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. One program that small businesses should consider taking advantage of is the Employee Retention Credit program.

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is a quarterly tax credit against the employer’s share of certain payroll taxes. The tax credit is 70% of the first $10,000 in wages per employee in each quarter of 2021. That means this credit is worth up to $7,000 per quarter and up to $28,000 per year, for each employee. If the amount of the tax credit for an employer is more than the amount of the employer’s share of those payroll taxes owed for a given quarter, the excess is refunded – paid – directly to them. 

These credits are available for all four quarters of 2021 and may deliver cash flow to your business as soon as you claim them. You can file for this credit for every quarter of 2021 on your form 941 filing and may also receive an advance payment of a portion of the credit. This program will be available to businesses through December 2021. 

Employee Retention Credit

Employee Retention Credit program (Graphic source)

You might be interested: How to still apply for Covid-19 Business Tax Credits ending Sept. 30

ERC Eligibility

You can begin to determine whether you are eligible for the Employee Retention Credit for any given quarter by assessing these questions: 

  • Was your business fully or partially shut down due to a governmental order during any part of the quarter? 
  • Or was the business’s gross receipts in a quarter declined more than 20% compared to either (a) the same quarter in 2019 or (b) the immediately preceding quarter in 2020 or 2021? 

If the answer to either question is YES, and the business had 500 or fewer employees, then any wages paid in the quarter may count towards the $10,000 per employee amount. 

Additionally, businesses that received PPP loans in 2020 or 2021 can still claim the ERC. While wages used to apply for PPP loan forgiveness cannot also be claimed as ERC wages, remaining wages may be eligible for the credit.

Certain small businesses that opened after February 15, 2020 may also be eligible for the ERC for the last two quarters of 2021. If these businesses have less than $1 million in annual gross receipts, they may claim ERCs of up to $50,000 per quarter, even if the businesses have not been shut down or experienced declines in revenue.

Small business owners should take advantage of these programs while they still can as many are ending soon. For more information about the BidenHarris Administration’s recovery programs visit: TREASURY.GOV/CORONAVIRUS

New America Alliance, Solange Brooks

New America Alliance CEO Solange Brooks says, “Diversity is one of the elements of success”

Solange Brooks is the CEO of New America Alliance (NAA), a national nonprofit organization committed to building on American Latino success to forge a stronger America and advocate for Latinos in the industry of investment. 

In the second installment of the National Leaders for Latinx Advancement Series, Latinas in Business President and CEO, Susana G Baumann, spoke to Solange to discuss NAA’s various initiatives and how the organization is helping increase capital access for women and minority-owned firms, and accelerate diverse leadership in entrepreneurship, corporate America, and public service.

Access to capital and investing in diverse firms

New America Alliance was founded in 1999 by a small group of successful Latino leaders, including Henry Cisneros, the former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Their mission was to advance the Latino community in four key areas: education, political awareness, economic empowerment, and philanthropy. 

Today, New America Alliance advocates for all communities of color and women, with a focus on financial services and access to capital for firms. 

“We believe strongly, that access to capital is one of the last bastions of the civil rights movement, and we have to go ahead and address it,” said Solange. 

Access to capital is a crucial first step for any project or venture and minority communities in particular often struggle the most in this area. Without capital, there is little you can do. This is something we know to be true for entrepreneurs and small business owners as well. For this reason, NAA began to expand to include other minority groups and become an even more diverse and inclusive organization. 

“We find that a lot of the things that help us, a lot of the tenets that we started this organization with, apply to too many people in the communities of color,” said Solange. 

One of New America Alliance’s biggest key initiatives is securing access to capital for diverse firms. 

“What we do is we meet with various institutional allocators to basically come and get to know us, get to know the members of NAA, get to know the opportunities they offer,” Solange said, detailing the process. 

“What happens often times is that people think ‘Oh, investing with diverse firms is like a social experiment.’ I’m here to tell you that, no, it isn’t. It’s not a social experiment at all. It’s basically money on the table that institutional investors have been leaving there because they don’t look at what we have, they have to be vetted. So we present opportunities. And we have a good conversation, we get to know the institutional investor a little bit, they get to know us a little bit. And then we circle back with them to see, which is the best way to present our opportunities. So it is not just a meeting that everybody feels good and goes their separate ways. But it’s a meeting where there’s actual engagement, and we have followed through. And this has been very, very successful. We have had people that may, they didn’t know anything about investing with communities of color, all of a sudden calling me and asking me, do you have somebody in infrastructure? Or do you have fixed income folks? And of course, there’s private equity. That’s very, very prevalent right now.” 

Diverse firms with diverse managers and partners are also more likely to bring in better revenue. This is because a diverse management structure prevents groupthink and allows for a greater pool of investment opportunities. 

“It has been proven over and over again that diversity is one of the elements of success…because everybody has different ideas, they have different worldviews,” said Solange.

“If you have everybody that came from the same place, went to the same school, had the same background, you are missing a huge portion of what you can do in investments. So yes, I know it’s right now, it’s very popular to quote diversity and inclusion. However, we, you know, NAA, has been doing that for 21 years. And there have been some institutional investors that this is all they do. And they’ve been having very good results.”

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NAA advocating for transparency in politics and educational initiatives 

Another key initiative for the New America Alliance is political awareness, specifically advocating for transparency. As a nonpartisan organization, NAA feels strongly about political transparency not only in corporate life but in pension plans. Through town halls and working with key legislators, NAA is pushing for greater transparency. 

“And you say,’ Why?’ Well, pension plans are the people’s money, and the workforce should know how their investments are being made. And they should know that the people in pension plans are doing their absolute best to take advantage of all the opportunities. And you do not know that unless you have a transparent system, where you can go ahead and observe what’s going on and have a dialogue about that,” Solange said. 

The third key initiative is in the area of education, passing on the torch to the next generation through mentorship opportunities. The NAA Institute Pathway Fellowship program is one of the ways NAA is working to guide young leaders. The program is an opportunity to foster and accelerate young leaders among American Latinos, women, and people of color and accelerate that leadership and entrepreneurship in corporate America and in public service. 

“So we have a program where we mentor the various individuals in the summer. And we basically have conversations with them, and they can see how somebody that looks like them is successful, and they’re in the financial services industry. And, you know, my favorite saying is like, ‘Hey, it’s not rocket science, folks. Anybody can learn it, just go to college, focus on math, focus on economics, and you’ll be fine.’ So we’re very excited about that program.”

Watch the full conversation between Susana G Baumann and Solange Brooks. 

For potential investors interested in becoming a member of New America Alliance, there are various advantages to becoming a part of the organization. NAA has a network of people, from large funds to small funds to people just starting out. 

“We help each other. Most definitely, because most of us know what it’s like to begin a business. Or know what it’s like to change strategy, and have to go ahead and discuss those opportunities,” said Solange. 

“One of the great things about investments is that there’s always somebody with a great idea. There’s always somebody new that’s bringing up their idea, and we want to nurture that.” 

Currently, the U.S. Latino population makes up about 18% of the total population and possesses about $1.5 trillion in buying power. The Latino population is also young and still growing.   

“And with all those little points, we are the future of this country. And Financial Services is only one segment where we have incredible value for institutional investors.”

How to still apply for Covid-19 Business Tax Credits ending Sept. 30

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 has provided businesses with various relief efforts. Now, several of these programs are coming to an end September 30, however there is still time for business owners to reap the benefits of the Covid-19 business tax credits before they end. 

Qualifying for Covid-19 business tax credit 

The Covid-19 business tax credits for small businesses provide businesses with dollar-for-dollar reimbursements that employers can use to provide paid sick leave to employees who cannot work due to Covid-19. These tax credits only cover paid leave between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021, but those who have not yet filed can do so before October 31, 2021. To receive the tax credit, employers should file Form 941, the Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return,  available on the IRS site. Qualifying businesses that file this form before October 31 will be able to claim credit for the year’s third quarter– July through September. 

A blog post by Rocket Lawyer –a free legal information and consulting site– details the various qualifications for applying along with additional information and legal advising about accessing Covid-19 business tax credits. 

To qualify for the business tax credits, businesses must have fewer than 500 employees. To use the credit, employees’ absence or inability to work must be for reasons related to Covid-19 between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021. These reasons including:  

  • Leave taken to get the COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Leave to recover from any illness or condition related to the vaccination.
  • Contracting COVID-19.
  • Caring for family members who have contracted COVID-19.
  • Quarantine periods related to COVID-19.
  • Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and attempting to get a medical diagnosis or test result.

The credit covers both paid sick leave wages and paid family leave wages up to a certain amount. For paid sick leave wages, the credit covers up to two weeks of leave, up to $511 per day and $5,110 total. For paid family leave wages, the credit covers up to 12 weeks, up to $200 per day and $12,000 total. 

Self-employed individuals may also qualify. For additional details and guidelines visit the IRS.gov

Additional relief resources for small businesses 

While the Covid-19 business tax credits may be ending, there are still many resources for small businesses seeking relief. The Small Business Administration provides information for many COVID-19 relief programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program,  COVID-19 EIDEL, Restaurant Revitalization Fund, and more. 

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