In the Community

 ‘We Rise’ helps build Black businesses, boosts Black entrepreneurs

Panel discussion about accelerator program that aims to equip black business owners and entrepreneurs with the skills to find and secure funding
Accelerator program aims to equip business owners with the skills to find and secure funding

PHOENIX, Ariz. (STN) – Access to available capital is critical for any new business to get off the ground and financially survive the first few years. However, Black entrepreneurs face significantly steeper climbs than their white counterparts, by and large.

“Access to capital is the lifeblood of a business,” said Quin Works, the Director of Development at Local First Arizona. “And Black entrepreneurs are launching their businesses with less than a third of the capital that their white peers have.”

Trying to bridge that gap is where Local First Arizona’s We Rise Accelerator comes in.

“We work every day to level the playing field,” Works said.

The accelerator, a mentorship program aimed at Black business owners, is a bi-weekly, 26-week curriculum featuring courses intended to provide a base-level understanding of business plans, pitching, networking, and funding.

“Our graduates benefit immensely,” Works said. “They leave with the materials they need to seek funding, the confidence to go out and seek funding, and the relationships and strategic partnerships.”

Watch the full panel discussion about Local First Arizona’s We Rise Accelerator here:

To help fund their accelerator, Local First Arizona has developed a strategic partnership with Arizona Financial Credit Union (AFCU).

“Serving the small business community is so important to Arizona Financial,” said AFCU Chief Strategy Officer Jason Paprocki. “We want to be there for their financial needs, and through our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we’re also very interested in serving minority-owned businesses.”

Both Paprocki and Works were part of a panel discussion for the February episode of “It Happens at STN,” focused on funding minority-owned businesses and specifically on the We Rise Accelerator.

And, there are certainly signs that the program and the partnership with AFCU are proving to be successful.

“We can actually quantify it,” Paprocki said. “Over 60 small business accounts have come through that program that we now have relationships with, and a number of loans.”

“Just from experiencing some of that content and seeing those success stories, worst-case scenario, we don’t get the relationships. We’ve helped sponsor that education going out into the community. I’ll take that end result all day.”

Works says you can see the results, even beyond the numbers.

“I would say that the future is bright for Arizona and especially for our Black entrepreneurs.”

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