SBA Empowers : The U.S. Small Business Administrator, Isabella Casillas Guzman, praised her agency’s work to support Black Greek groups and businesses in metro Atlanta.
Guzman spoke at the 39th Biennial Conclave of Iota Phi Theta, Inc. in Dunwoody. He emphasized the importance of an inclusive economy. Just over a year ago, the “Divine Nine” and the Small Business Administration (SBA) agreed to collaborate.
The SBA recognizes this network as a great resource for Black businesses nationwide. Through this partnership, fraternities and sororities have access to SBA district offices and resource partners. The groups and agencies can collaborate to train and share knowledge.
During the meeting, Guzman discussed the SBA’s growth centers and tools for small business owners. She discussed the agency’s program for hiring government workers and emphasized the financial assistance it provides through grants, loans, and disaster relief.
7% of companies in metro Atlanta are owned by black people. This creates a strong business hub for Black entrepreneurs in the US. A study found that Atlanta has 20% more Black-owned businesses than the rest of the country.
The SBA is collaborating with Iota Phi Theta and other Divine Nine members to simplify access to funds for starting businesses. Walter L. Fields, head of communications for Iota Phi Theta, said that many Black business owners, especially those in Black Greek letter organizations, may have owned businesses but were hesitant to use the formal SBA process.
Small business owners in Georgia can seek assistance from the SBA in Atlanta. The office collaborates with other groups in metro Atlanta to distribute essential tools. The IRC, Urban League, Morehouse College, and Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs are partners. The IRC received a $800,000 grant from the SBA’s Community Navigator Pilot Program in late 2021. It helped 302 small businesses from different backgrounds. Along with other nonprofits in DeKalb helping immigrants, it provided free business advice, technical support, and assistance with loan and grant applications.