Press Release

Gillibrand Convenes Local Business Leaders In Harlem; Calls For More Than $400 Million To Help Underserved Populations Gain Access To Capital And Build Generational Wealth

Apr 3, 2023

Federal Funding To Support Economic Growth In Low-Income Communities; Recent Survey Shows It Costs Black Business Owners Approximately $5,000 More To Start A Business Than Their Non-Black Peers

HARLEM, N.Y. —Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a press conference with local business leaders at Settepani Restaurant in Harlem to call for more than $400 million in federal funding to help underserved populations gain access to capital and build generational wealth. Specifically, Gillibrand is calling for $341 million for community development financial institutions (CDFIs), $56 million for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) microloan program, and $10 million for SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund in FY24 appropriations. Senator Gillibrand was joined by joined by Settepani Bakery & Restaurant owner Leah Abraham, CEO & President of Carver Bank Michael T. Pugh, President and CEO of Pursuit Chris Levy, SBA Regional Administrator Marlene Cintron, and The Brownstone boutique owner Princess Jenkins. Following the press conference, representatives from the regional SBA office answered questions to help local business leaders learn more about accessing funding.

“I am thrilled to be here at Settepani connecting New York’s business leaders to federal resources that will continue opening doors right here in Harlem,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Providing small businesses with access to capital is the key to growing generational wealth and creating economic opportunity in our neighborhoods, and especially in our underserved communities. I’m calling for over $400 million in additional federal resources that will help New York’s entrepreneurs cover important expenses needed to start and run a successful business, like securing licenses, permits, and leases. The business leaders here are proof of the great things that can happen when entrepreneurs are given the support they need to thrive.”

“A CDFI’s deep community roots afford it the opportunity for personalized service and a holistic approach to lending focused not just on the dollar value of a business, but also its overall impact on the neighborhoods they serve. We applaud Senator Gillibrand for recognizing the critical value that CDFIs bring to underserved communities everywhere, and we look forward to working with her to enhance these critical capital pipelines,” said CEO & President of Carver Bank Michael T. Pugh.

“This is a great announcement! As a proud CDFI recipient I champion the work that Senator Gillibrand is doing and I truly believe these programs will benefit many small business to flourish and thrive in NY,” said Melba Wilson of Melba’s Restaurant.

A recent survey found that 57% of Black business owners were denied a bank loan at least once when starting their business, while 37% of non-Black business owners were denied. It also cost Black business owners about $5,000 more to start a business than their non-Black peers. Additionally, during the pandemic, women of color received less assistance from banks or financial institutions than men. Senator Gillibrand is calling for robust federal resources to help close this gap:

  1. $341 million for Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund: CDFIs provide credit, capital, and financial services to underserved populations and communities across the country. For more information please click here.
  • $56 million for SBA’s microloan program: Provides technical assistance and small-dollar loans to small businesses unable to qualify for conventional loans or other SBA guaranteed loans. This program is administered by SBA through a network of community-based intermediary lenders to assist businesses in underserved markets. For more information please click here.
  • $10 million for SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund: Provides capital to accelerator programs that address the challenges facing founders of early-stage companies. These accelerators provide early-stage businesses with financing, education, mentorship, and technical assistance during a vulnerable stage in their lifecycle. For more information please click here.

The full text of Senator Gillibrand’s letter on the CDFI Fund is available here.

The full text of her letter on the SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund is available here.