Racial equity lender issues first RACE4Progress loans

Cuong “CQ” Huynh Courtesy Cloverdale Photography

Rende Progress Capital is deploying the first five loans in its RACE4Progress Loan Fund for entrepreneurs of color impacted by COVID-19.

The Grand Rapids-based racial equity lender said Monday that it immediately began processing applicants, approving funds and deploying relief loans from its RACE4Progress fund established in June, which provides progressive, low-interest loans and a flexible application process for Kent County’s “excluded entrepreneurs.”

The first five loans will go to the owners of Forty Acres Soul Kitchen; Berry Organic Acai, dba Haggerty’s; Hustle. Pray. Eat.; Digital Marketing Solutions LLC; and GRNoir Wine & Jazz.

Eric Foster Courtesy Rende Progress Capital

Cuong “CQ” Huynh, co-founder and general manager of Rende Progress Capital (RPC), shared the news in an email newsletter to constituents.

“I would like to thank Eric (Foster, RPC managing director), the RPC staff and our loan committee for their commitment, time, efforts and availability to frequently meet to approve applicants due to the extenuating circumstances of the pandemic and pressure it has placed on excluded entrepreneurs and their families,” he said.

“In addition, we appreciate the Frey Foundation’s support of $30,000 to the fund, joining the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.”

More information about the loan fund is at rendeprogresscapital.com.

Loan recipient details

Forty Acres Soul Kitchen: This “authentically American soul food” restaurant at 1059 Wealthy St. SE is owned by Lewis Williams and Darel Ross II. It serves a diverse client base and affirms Black culture, community and success. As the pandemic resulted in the restaurant’s 100% closure, the loan fund will be used to replenish food inventory and assist in bringing back employees for its reopening.

Berry Organic Acai, dba Haggerty’s: This restaurant and coffee shop also specializing in acai bowls is located at 1600 East Beltline Ave. NE, Suite 118, in Grand Rapids Township. The loan will help this family business owned by Emily Haggerty with payroll, lease obligations and adding back inventory to pre-pandemic levels.

Hustle. Pray. Eat.: Based in the same building as Forty Acres, this retail business owned by Mark Evans II and Alyson Evans provides quality urban streetwear. Relief funds will be used to assist the business to address inventory needs and strengthen its online presence to diversify its pre-COVID-19 business model of social, event and on-site product promotion.

Digital Marketing Solutions LLC: Owned by Phillip Nguyen at 6633 S. Division Ave. in Cutlerville, this company with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau provides website design services and information technology services and solutions to business clients, particularly in the beauty industry. Relief funds will allow the business to address financial obligations, marketing and business operations during the pandemic.

GRNoir Wine & Jazz: Owned by couple Shatawn and Nadia Brigham, this business at 35 S. Division Ave. in Grand Rapids pivoted to promoting and selling its wine products online, as its restaurant opening plans were delayed. The relief fund will be used for business operations and to address the delayed on-site restaurant opening halted due to the pandemic.

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