Minority-owned businesses could get a boost from this new financing initiative

David Sharp, managing partner at UP Community Fund
David Sharp, managing partner at UP Community Fund Ed Chavis with Urban Image Photography

It could be easier for entrepreneurs of color in Charlotte to find small business loans, thanks to a new investment fund launched Thursday.

The Charlotte-based UP Community Fund is designed to make capital more readily available to minority-owned businesses in the Southeast.

The fund will provide loans ranging from $250,000 to $1.2 million to small businesses and community organizations in its target markets, which include Atlanta, Baltimore and Charlotte.

Urban Advisors, an investment firm based in Charlotte, partnered with Maryland-based Calvert Impact Capital in announcing the fund.

“We are excited to offer a flexible financing solution that has been specifically designed to meet the needs of entrepreneurs of color in the southeast region,” wrote David Sharp, Managing Partner of UP Community Fund and CEO of Urban Advisors, on the fund’s website, “UP Community Fund is a social justice solution that will make a difference to people and communities of low-to-moderate income.”

In an interview, Sharp said that small business owners have a harder time accessing affordable credit than larger corporations. It can be even more difficult for small business owners from minority groups, who encounter "additional layers of challenges" in pursuing the funds necessary to grow and sustain their business.

A 2012 study by the Charlotte Chamber found that lack of capital for start-ups and expansion was a “key issue” for minority-owned businesses, specifically those owned by African Americans.

“We really felt like the time was right to put a strategy in place that could make a difference within our respective market,” Sharp said. “There’s a lot of great ideas, there are a lot of great businesses, there is a lot of entrepreneurial talent, that the city doesn’t get to see, that the city doesn’t get to benefit from.”