Investing in Minority-Owned Small Businesses Is Part of How we Recover Equitably from the Pandemic
- May 18, 2022 5:05 pm GMT
Exelon’s utilities serve more than 10 million people across the Northeast and upper Midwest, some of the country’s most diverse and vibrant cities; places rich with talent, and full of people with creative ideas for making our communities a better place. Those same diverse and vibrant cities have also been challenged by significantly higher rates of unemployment and poverty than the national average.
To make matters worse, minority-owned small businesses in many of those cities were hit especially hard by the pandemic, and an existing lack of resources and financial support was exacerbated by the impact of lockdowns and ongoing economic challenges.
Still, there are community business leaders working hard to change that disparity in urban areas. Despite a disproportionate lack of access to capital and investment funding, in each of our service areas, there are minority-owned small businesses that are doing their best to boost local economies. At Exelon, we’ve decided to do more than just sit back and watch. In partnership with the Exelon Foundation, Exelon’s utilities are doing something to help.
With the creation of our Racial Equity Capital Fund, we’re investing $36 million from our bottom line to address an inequity that has undermined growth in those communities we serve. Applications are now open in each of our service areas.
By providing access to needed capital, the Racial Equity Capital Fund will provide increased opportunities for minority-owned small businesses in our service areas to expand, create more jobs, grow their companies, reinvest in their neighborhoods and communities, and power local economies. RockCreek, a diverse-owned global investment firm, will be managing the fund and independently assessing which businesses are eligible for funding, based on guiding criteria we’ve set in advance. Through a combination of loans of $100K to $300K and up to $1 million in equity capital, we’ll be providing more than funding for minority-owned small businesses; we’ll be providing an opportunity to grow beyond the limits of what used to be possible.
The launch of this fund is just one in a series of commitments Exelon has made to live out our values of diversity, equity and inclusion that are central to who we are. Exelon increased its spending with diverse suppliers to $2.9 billion last year and has donated $164 million to organizations that focus on DEI over the past five years. Our efforts and partnerships are crucial, because they don’t just help our customers, they expand the economic opportunity in the communities we serve and create space for a more equitable economic recovery.
Though tradition would dictate our focus isn’t investing in a capital fund for small businesses, nothing about our commitment to equity and powering growth requires us to remain traditional. We’re in the business of building communities, opportunities and supporting the leadership of the minority small business owners with a vision for expansion that will boost local economies and propel community growth. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, minority-owned small businesses have always been engines of innovation. This $36 million investment is a testament to our belief that with equitable access to resources we’ll all not only recover, but thrive.
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