RPC creates RACE4Progress loans for women of color

Robin Selmon, RPC loan committee chair and founding board member Courtesy Rende Progress Capital

Rende Progress Capital is deploying three more loans through its RACE4Progress Loan Fund for entrepreneurs of color impacted by COVID-19.

Grand Rapids-based racial equity lender RPC said last week that it closed out the month of August by approving three loans, amounts undisclosed, for women of color business owners to help eliminate the racial wealth gap and empower female entrepreneurship.

Robin Selmon, RPC loan committee chair and founding board member, said she and the committee found it “most rewarding” to help these new loan customers.

“We are especially pleased to serve great women-owned businesses of color from an array of sectors and fields within varying industries,” she said.

Selmon cited a May 2020 report authored by economics professor Robert Fairlie of the University of California, Santa Cruz, that small business owners of color this spring were hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with Black business owners experiencing losses of 41%; Latinx, 32%; Asian, 26%; immigrant, 36%; and female, 25%.

“We can and must meet the challenge of eliminating the racial wealth gap and confront economic inequality for the sustainability of businesses of color and for the empowerment of businesses owned by women,” Selmon said.

New loan recipients

Kamethia Wilson, owner, Knockout Health and Fitness: Wilson is RPC’s first lakeshore customer. She is a veteran and participated in the Michigan Veteran Entrepreneur-Lab at the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Grand Valley State University, which is an RPC partner. Wilson received a RACE4Progress loan funded by the Mike & Sue Jandernoa Foundation and Untours Foundation, which she will use to improve her marketing to grow her online audience during the pandemic, as well as to support her continued operations. Knockout focuses on providing on-site and online healthy lifestyle and fitness classes for individual and organizational clients through “lively fitness programs,” such as boxing and MMA-style workouts. More information is at kohealthandwellness.com.

Santa Matias Gomez, owner, United Freedom Painting: Based in Wyoming, United Freedom Painting provides interior and exterior painting services for commercial and residential clients with a focus on affordability, customer respect and attention to detail. The RACE4Progress relief loan will help Gomez meet payroll and operational expenses and help it to recover from a 90-day COVID-19 shutdown. More information about the business is at unitedfreedompainting.com.

Meurry Romero-Munoz, owner, Acceso VIP: A Grand Rapids-based company, Acceso VIP specializes in digital marketing, event management and promotion for businesses of all types. Its services include social media management, photography/videography, graphic design, and website design and management. Romero-Munoz’s mission for Acceso VIP is to help grow local businesses and amplify its message within the Spanish-speaking community. She will use the RACE4Progress loan for COVID-19 relief, payroll, securing critical equipment for her business and operational expenses. More information is at facebook.com/accesovip.

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