Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce looking to help businesses

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce is looking to provide micro-grants for small businesses between Stockton and Kern County.

Thanks to the California Office of Small Business Advocate's Dream Fund, the chamber received $1 million.

"The funding is extremely important. For the Chamber, one of our main goals and our main jobs is to provide technical assistance to small businesses in the community," says Dr. Cassandra Little, CEO and President of the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce.

Grants vary from $5,000-$10,000 each and could impact up to 300 businesses.

Through the pandemic, the chamber has seen an increase in business start-ups and they want to keep that going.

"We want to create an ecosystem that is so strong that it is going to be hard for them to fail," says Dr. Little.

Although the chamber offers support to all small businesses, they are intentional in trying to target under-served populations.

"Data wise, African Americans are really poised to start new businesses" Dr. Little continues to explain, "Where we kinda lack is sustaining our businesses and that all comes down to a lack of access to capital and what we call social capital."

To fill the gap, the chamber offers a number of programs, including 'Betting Big,' which focuses on female business owners.

Essence Taylor, Owner of Haus of Essentials, is one of 30 who will be among the first eligible to apply for the Dream Fund grant.

"I think those funds will mean I can revamp the store, and I can invest in more inventory," says Essence.

With a career in business management, Essence was able to share her knowledge with the first Betting Big Cohort, meanwhile gaining a support system.

"Now I just know that I have people behind me and I can see the bigger picture, and there is capital out there that is accessible to us as black business owners," says Essence.

To apply for funding, businesses should have started after July of 2019.

Business owners will also need to participate in the chamber's 90-day Dream Fund Accelerator Workshop.

It's an 11-week course, which meets once a week virtually.

"Through that accelerator, they will be learning how to market a business, how to write a business plan, which is another requirement to access funds," says Dr. Cassandra Little.

The goal she says is creating tool kits to help small Central Valley businesses start-up and succeed for years to come.

The first class for the 90-day Dream Fund Accelerator Workshop kicks off next Tuesday, on April 12.

To apply, visit https://fmbcc.com/resource/dream-fund/.

For more resources, click here.
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