The economic success of our region’s fastest-growing population – People of Color – is a critical component of the overall well-being of our community. Supporting entrepreneurs and business owners of color is essential to developing community wealth in our region, yet studies repeatedly show that entrepreneurs of color face increased denial rates, pay higher interest rates, and receive lower amounts on business loans than their white counterparts.
In an effort to break down these barriers and advance economic justice for communities of color, PeopleFund created the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Small Business Accelerator in 2021. The program provides BIPOC entrepreneurs with the network, tools, and resources needed to grow their businesses. Upon completion of the training program, participants receive loan and grant funding to help meet the equity injection and credit requirements needed to access other loans. To date, 28 entrepreneurs have completed the program and received approximately $1.5 million in loans and $121,000 in grants.
Through FundATX, Austin Community Foundation made a $250,000 impact investment in PeopleFund in support of the Central Texas cohort of the BIPOC Small Business Accelerator. To share the impact of this program, we’re excited to feature two inspiring participant stories.
Shelesa “Sugar” Jones | Pink Sugar Treats & Eats
Pink Sugar Treats & Eats is a sustainable, small-batch bakery focused on a minimalistic aesthetic and food-forward decorations. In addition to cakes and cookies, Pink Sugar Treats & Eats curates wedding cakes, dessert bars, cake and cookie decorating classes, team building activities, and private parties.
Starting as a home bakery, Pink Sugar Treats & Eats found increasing success, booking orders even a year in advance. To continue to grow her bakery, owner Shelesa “Sugar” Jones hoped to open a brick-and-mortar location in East Austin, but she needed access to capital.
After graduating from the BIPOC Small Business Accelerator, Sugar received the funding she needed and was able to purchase equipment for her storefront.
When asked about her experience, Sugar said, “I graduated with a lot of affirmation that my business is on track, expanding knowledge on how to ask and attract funding, a network of advisors that have proven eager to see me and my business succeed, and a financial infusion that has completely eased the burden of not having working capital. I am grateful to have been chosen and even more inspired to dig in and show up. Thank you to everyone who touched this program from conception to conclusion!”
Terri Ziang | Little Hands International Preschool
With a mission centered on safety, love, and community, Little Hands International Preschool cares for children ages 18 months to 5 years old. The school teaches an appreciation of global cultures and offers classes in English, Mandarin, and Spanish. Owner Terri Ziang has over 25 years of experience in education in China and the U.S.
At the onset of the pandemic and in the months following, Little Hands International Preschool was in danger of closing its doors due to varying levels of enrollment, staff shortages, and increased rent. Ziang knew she needed working capital to keep the preschool afloat and she turned to PeopleFund for assistance.
After successfully graduating from the BIPOC Small Business Accelerator program, Ziang received funding to cover critical expenses related to moving to a new location and staffing. She credits the program with helping her keep the preschool open so that she and her team can continue providing high-quality childcare to the community.
FundATX is an impact investing program that supports projects intended to create a positive social outcome along with a financial return. This strategy allows Austin Community Foundation to invest in solutions to local issues while generating a financial return on philanthropic dollars that can be recycled to consistently fund new projects. FundATX investments are focused on improving economic security and access to affordable housing in Central Texas. Learn more >