community-driven economic empowerment

Greater Manchester pilot program
is creating resilient businesses

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.

Beatrice Adekoya of Mercy of God African Market in Manchester, NH.
Beatrice Adekoya of Mercy of God African Market in Manchester, NH.

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 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

C-DEE Accelerator boosts businesses

Twenty Greater Manchester entrepreneurs of color have received up to $5,000 in one-time funding and specialized business coaching from the C-DEE Accelerator.

The C-DEE Accelerator was created as a special opportunity to help businesses become more resilient and self-sufficient. It provided one-time funds for computer hardware or software and professional services, including legal consultation, bookkeeping, marketing, and business coaching or consulting.

It received 26 applications, from which 20 were selected to receive a total of $52,586 and be paired with a free business coach from either the Center for Women & Enterprise or Small Business Development Centers.

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