Racial equity firm funds nail salon, adds board member

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Rende Progress Capital selected a nail salon to receive a loan from its RACE4Progress COVID-19 small business relief fund and also appointed a new board member.

The Grand Rapids-based racial equity lending firm, also known as RPC, said it selected Asia Nails in Gaines Township to receive an undisclosed loan amount from its RACE4Progress fund in September.

Cuong “CQ” Huynh, co-founder and general manager of Rende Progress Capital Courtesy Cloverdale Photography

Cuong “CQ” Huynh, co-founder and general manager of RPC, said the selection of Asia Nails to receive a loan “underscores continued growth of Asian-American customers in our portfolio.”

Huynh cited recent reporting by ABC News that Asian American workers are increasingly struggling with high rates of COVID-19 cases and unemployment, and Asian American business owners are struggling to access financial relief.

“Before COVID-19, this demographic had the lowest unemployment rate, at just 2.5%,” Huynh said. “Harrison Lung, who authored a report for the McKinsey consulting firm, noted that there has been a tremendous negative financial impact on such businesses, specifically ‘those in food services, industries, restaurants (and) laundromats, as well as salons.

“For these reasons, as well as our own focus and commitment of ensuring that our portfolio of customers is representative of all excluded entrepreneurs, we (selected) RACE4Progress Loan customer Asia Nails.”

Asia Nails

Hai Le Courtesy Rende Progress Capital

Owned by Hai Le, Asia Nails is a full-service beauty salon founded in 2015 and located at 6141 Kalamazoo Ave. SE in Gaines Township. It offers a variety of nail care services, such as manicures, spa pedicures, nail enhancements, facials and waxing. The business is committed to using high-quality and all-natural products in each of its service areas, RPC said.

After its reopening June 15, Asia Nails has struggled to regain its financial footing. Referred to RPC by the West Michigan Asian American Association, the business plans to use the loan funds to address payroll obligations, secure and maintain necessary PPE, and restock inventory.

More information about Asia Nails is at asianails.net.

New board member

Beverly Meek Courtesy Rende Progress Capital

RPC also recently appointed Beverly Meek, first vice president and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) director at Flagstar Bank, to its board of directors.

Eric Foster, co-founder, managing partner and board chair of RPC, said Meek will help the growing firm meet its mission of eliminating the racial wealth gap.

At Flagstar, Meek is responsible for developing, implementing and administering the bank’s CRA compliance program. This includes implementing the bank’s strategy for meeting the lending, investment and service needs of the communities in which the bank operates, including in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods.

Prior to her role at Flagstar Bank, Meek worked at JP Morgan & Chase in various capacities, including as vice president for corporate responsibility.

She is involved in her community in southeast Michigan and has spearheaded initiatives such as the city of Pontiac’s resident-led Big Idea Grant Program, which raised $3.5 million to be distributed in grants and loans.

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