Meijer Inc. is putting $500,000 into operational support and lending capital for the local racial equity lender Rende Progress Capital.
Grand Rapids-based Rende Progress Capital (RPC) said Wednesday it received the half-million-dollar investment from Meijer Inc. The investment partnership will go toward enhancing small business lending, programs and services to small businesses owned by people of color in Kent County and throughout Michigan to eliminate the racial wealth gap and barriers to conventional lending.
RPC defines excluded entrepreneurs as African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, Native American and immigrant business owners who are impacted by the racial wealth gap and are more likely to seek predatory loans due to small business loan exclusion.
The contribution from Meijer will provide RPC with operational support to ensure its sustainability and ability to offer more free business technical assistance to excluded entrepreneurs. It also will strengthen RPC’s capitalization and lending ability.
Meijer President and CEO Rick Keyes said the partnership is part of Meijer’s commitment to addressing racial inequities in the communities it serves.
“Meijer is committed to doing our part to support a culture that promotes diversity and inclusion for our customers, team members, suppliers and communities we serve,” Keyes said. “In addition to investing in our teams and customers, we’re making meaningful investments that will make a lasting impact as we take a stand against racism and inequality.
“We’re excited to partner with Rende Progress Capital to eliminate barriers to capital and provide new means of opportunity and growth (for) entrepreneurs of color. RPC’s work and increasing impact from its standard lending and COVID-19 relief lending to businesses owned by diverse groups align with our values and have inspired us to join in this cause.”
Eric Foster, RPC co-founder, chair and managing director, said Meijer is RPC’s second corporate partner.
“To have such a corporation and brand willing to journey with us in our continued path toward sustainability is important,” Foster said. “Our customers face statistical inequities such as having 36% more conventional loan denials, even when some have similar creditworthiness to their white peers. As noted in our past local surveys, 12% of excluded entrepreneurs engage in predatory loans because they have no other sources. RPC also experiences disparities, as CDFIs managed by professionals of color are undercapitalized at almost 30%-40%.
“Meijer’s financial support is simultaneously addressing those inequalities that our customers face, as well as those we face in serving them.”