Greater Manchester pilot program is community driven
Community-Driven Economic Empowerment (C-DEE), a pilot program of the Manchester NAACP and New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, aims to bring people of color together as a community to create resilient neighborhood businesses.
The program, launched in January 2022, draws on the historic work of the Manchester NAACP in advocating for equal economic opportunities, and the Community Loan Fund’s experience delivering financing and coaching to help local businesses thrive.
The Community Business Development Council, a volunteer group of business owners in the city, will identify and refer peers who could benefit from technical assistance and loans.
The initiative began with interviews conducted by Deo Mwano Consultancy with 45 business owners in Greater Manchester who identify as black, indigenous, or people of color, about their strengths, struggles, and what their businesses need to succeed.
The interviews revealed that although business owners of color face persistent challenges, they generally were resourceful and resilient, had excellent relationships with their customers, and offered unique products and services customized for the cultures they serve.
Many said they struggle with technology, financing, and bookkeeping. Few felt connected to business institutions, such as banks or industry groups.
C-DEE hopes to change that, by connecting business owners of color with customized coaching, and by inviting local banks to participate in the loans it generates.
C-DEE will be run from the Community Loan Fund’s new office on Amherst Street in Manchester.
C-DEE is supported by funders including Bank of America, Santander, Bangor Savings Bank, NBT Bank, Cambridge Trust, and the Endowment for Health. McLane Middleton Law Firm and the Small Business Development Center have already signed on as technical assistance providers.
“We know that communities are most successful in addressing challenges and achieving goals when solutions come from within. So, it is important for us to create a structure where those in the community drive how resources are applied in the community." – James McKim, President, Manchester NAACP
“We believe our success in Manchester will rely on listening and respecting cultural differences and cues, just as good business owners do. And we can help ensure their success by connecting them with technical assistance providers who are also listening and respecting those cultural differences and cues.” – Zachery Palmer, Community Business Lender, NH Community Loan Fund
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