Lending to Entrepreneurs of Color: Operational Challenges

Scaling Lending to Entrepreneurs of Color, Part I: Core Operational Challenges

The Aspen Institute’s Business Ownership Initiative

First published November 2021

Because business ownership has been a means for many Americans to build wealth, providing loans and grants to entrepreneurs of color has been seen by many as an important way to address the racial wealth gap. Although successfully reaching excluded entrepreneurs will require practices and competencies that meet their specific contexts, the lessons we have learned and practices that have proven successful will apply to all entrepreneurs who face barriers in accessing credit because of low levels of wealth, thin or nonexistent credit files, differences in cultural experiences and languages, discrimination, and/or the amount of credit they are seeking. This brief — the first in a series on this topic — discusses the core operational challenges that community development financial institutions (CDFIs) face in scaling their lending to entrepreneurs of color.

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