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MKE BOSS initiative to launch next month; will infuse Black and brown owned businesses with capital

Three Milwaukee community development financial institutions are joining forces to launch the Milwaukee Small Business Continuum of Capital project, known as MKE B.O.S.S. (Build Operate Scale and Sustain) on Friday, February 16.

Self-Help Federal Credit Union (SHFCU) is the lead grantee of the initiative, which is funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co. The Northwest Side Community Development Corporation (NWSCDC) and Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) are partnering with Self-Help to provide a continuum of support to Black and Brown small business owners in Milwaukee as part of MKE B.O.S.S.

“We are excited to move forward and announce this project to the community,” SHFCU Milwaukee City Executive Pamela L. Bell said in a statement . “We are eager to see the economic development and increased opportunities this Collaborative will create for Black and brown business owners.”

“Small business growth is key to unlocking economic opportunity for more people throughout Milwaukee,” JP Morgan Chase Global Philanthropy Program Officer Phylicia Manley said in a statement. “At JPMorgan Chase, we are thrilled to see business, non-profits, and community partners come together to help minority entrepreneurs get a fair shot at achieving their dreams.”

“Milwaukee entrepreneurs of color can access a range of services through the MKE Boss platform,” NWSCDC executive director Willie Smith said in a statement. “All three partners provide small business loans, but we also have substantial resources to assist with business planning. We’re here to help you articulate your vision and take the steps needed to achieve it.”

Racial desegregation has occurred in many metropolitan areas of the U.S. since the 1980s, but Milwaukee remains the nation’s most segregated metro area. Organizers said the overarching goal of the project is to cultivate a more equitable, accessible and synergistic ecosystem for Black and brown small business owners in Milwaukee – informing and equipping them with the resources relevant in operating, growing, and sustaining their businesses.

The initial focus of the effort is to launch and fully integrate the platform, designed by social impact consultancy DC Design and their development partner, Volt Studios, into the operations of the lead partners.

The capital needs of aspiring entrepreneurs will also be addressed through this project. WWBIC will focus on serving borrowers with loans in the $1,000 to $350,000 range; NWSCDC in the $250,000 to $1 million range, and SHFCU as the option for loans over $1 million. Additional cross-referrals may be needed to address the technical assistance needs of borrowers depending on the type and timing of support needed and/or the sector in which they operate. 

“This will be a game changer not only from a partner collaboration perspective, but truly enhancing how referral services are provided to our entrepreneurs of color,” WWBIC Vice President of Programs and Operations Kamaljit K. Jackson said in a statement. “Special shout out to JPMorgan Chase for their funding commitment and allowing the collaborative to showcase how partners can truly come together and achieve a level-playing field of resources and support for our entrepreneurs of color.”