Closing the Wealth Gap for Bronx Black and LatinX Entrepreneurs
Launch of entrepreneur cohort will accelerate capital lending, network building and market access for local small business owners
May 11, 2021 – Business Outreach Center Network (BOC Network), a small business development organization, announced today the launch of Ascend NYC with an initial focus on the Bronx community through an investment of $1 million from JPMorgan Chase. This investment will connect a cohort of 13 diverse Bronx -based small business entrepreneurs to management education, market opportunities and capital through a network of partners including BOC Network, the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative (BCDI) BronXchange, the City University of New York’s Bronx Community College and BOC Capital Corp.
The Collaborative chose the Bronx to launch Ascend NYC given its economic challenges as the poorest urban county in the United States. Despite these challenges, the borough is also home to some of the region’s top hospitals and universities, which collectively purchase $9 billion in goods and services annually. The Bronx also boasts many successful commercial corridors including the Hunts Point Terminal Market, the largest food distribution center in the world.
Recognizing motivated small business owners, particularly women, minority and immigrant entrepreneurs, often lack access to capital and business advice, the University of Washington Foster School of Business created Ascend to enable minority businesses to grow and thrive by focusing on management, markets and money. With an investment from JPMorgan Chase, Ascend is expanding to the Bronx to harness the knowledge, skills and passion of large, anchor institutions in the business community to help launch or grow small businesses in their neighborhoods.
“BOC joins businesses on their entrepreneurial journey, helping to pave their way with financing and practical business counseling and training,” said Nancy Carin, executive director, BOC Network. “This collaboration with BCDI, CUNY Bronx Community College and local anchor institutions marks an important step in our collective efforts to increase the wealth and ownership for diverse small business owners in the Bronx.”
The 13 entrepreneurs in the inaugural Ascend NYC cohort will have access to BOC Capital’s safe, reliable loan products to take their ventures to the next level and obtain the capital needed for growth. BOC Network will provide the small business owners with education and resources so they can make smart, informed decisions about their operations, staffing and strategic growth. Ascend NYC will provide Bronx small business owners like KOJO Pest Control with access to larger contract opportunities at community staples such as Hunts Point Produce Market. BCDI’s BronXchange will help cohort members increase and diversify their networks to expand their revenue, industry partnerships and regional business opportunities.
“Ascend NYC has shown me from the beginning how dedicated they are to improving our quality of life, our financial situation, and our ability to improve the community, hire more people, and just be good role models,” said Damian Cord, owner of KOJO Pest Control.
Businesses like KOJO are making connections throughout the Bronx that will strengthen their businesses for years to come. “Unlocking the potential of Black and Latinx small businesses is a direct path forward to changing the economic future of communities like the Bronx to create greater racial economic equity,” said Jeanique Druses, vice president, Global Philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase & Co. “Ascend NYC will help local entrepreneurs grow their businesses, create good jobs and earn quality livelihoods for themselves and their families. The Bronx is the perfect place to begin this work.”
Local anchor partners like Hunts Point Produce Market present contract opportunities to Ascend businesses. Phillip Grant, General Manager, Hunts Point Produce Market shared, “In my years supporting Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs), I have found that access to the right network and contacts can play a significant role in a firm’s success. Direct access to anchors plays a crucial role. The Hunts Point Produce Market is a Bronx Business. Many of our employees are from The Bronx. Many of our market buyers are from The Bronx. By prioritizing Bronx businesses, especially MWBE’s, we are supporting the local economy that, in turn, helps support us. We’ve joined the Ascend anchor network in the hopes of working with our anchor colleagues to develop best practices when engaging local MWBE’s.”
Karla Renee Williams, Esq., Dean for Workforce Development & Continuing Education, Bronx Community College reflected, “New York City is at a pivotal moment and now, more than ever, New Yorkers are in need of opportunities to sustain and grow their businesses. On behalf of The City University of New York colleges, Bronx Community College is proud to partner with JP Morgan Chase’s Small Business Forward Initiative to establish and support the Ascend New York ecosystem for the benefit of our city’s future economic giants. We look forward to continuing to identify ways to serve our surrounding community and remove the barriers that prevent traditionally underserved populations from accessing the resources necessary to succeed.”
“Ascend New York’s mission and work is critical for our local economy. At the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative (BCDI), our BronXchange team has partnered with Ascend to create revenue and contract opportunities for dozens of Bronx entrepreneurs and minority-owned businesses,” shared Michael Partis, Executive Director, Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative. “It is Ascend’s ecosystem approach that has created strong partnerships with the Bronx business community and civic institutions, to advance equitable economic development throughout our neighborhoods and communities. BCDI looks forward to continuing working with Ascend to create a thriving and sustainable Bronx economy.”
ABOUT BUSINESS OUTREACH CENTER NETWORK
BOC Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping underserved communities achieve economic stability and growth. The organization works closely with partners to deliver customized support to minority and woman-owned small businesses. BOC Network connects local small businesses with economic opportunities, thus fostering growth and job creation where they are most needed.
ABOUT BRONX COOPERATIVE DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE
The Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative (BCDI) is a community-led planning and economic development organization. We are growing a network of community and labor organizations, anchor institutions, and small businesses to build an equitable, sustainable, and democratic local economy that creates shared wealth and ownership for low-income people of color.
ABOUT BRONX COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Founded in 1957, Bronx Community College is one of seven community colleges in the City University of New York (CUNY) system, serving approximately 9,000 students annually, many who are first-generation college students and first general citizens. BCC offers more than 40 academic programs that prepare students to continue their education at four-year institutions or enter the workforce. The College is committed to providing innovative and high quality education and training to ensure positive social mobility for individuals living and working in the Bronx and beyond.
ABOUT BOC CAPITAL CORP
BOC Capital Corp., founded in 2001, is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) dedicated to providing financing to small business owners, with a special focus on women, minority, and immigrant entrepreneurs. BOC Capital provides flexible, customized loans – as well as ongoing business development assistance – to help with everything from supporting a new business, to taking an existing local business to the next level. In response to COVID-19, BOC Capital is providing low-cost financing to support small business recovery. For more information, visit: www.boccapital.org.
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