The Greater West Dayton Incubator is accepting applications for a new round of microloans supporting Black, women and other underrepresented and underresourced business owners as well as those serving the Greater West Dayton community.
“These microloans help create more equitable economic opportunities for business owners who have been historically marginalized,” said Whitney Barkley, director of the Greater West Dayton Incubator. “They allow entrepreneurs who might not seek funds from a traditional bank or the Small Business Administration to hire, buy needed equipment, open brick-and-mortar locations and more to lift not only their businesses but our local economy and community.”
The Cultural Capital microloans, which range from $500 to $15,000, also can be used toward operating expenses, marketing and other costs of running a business. Applications are evaluated based on more flexible criteria than traditional banks, emphasizing passion, persistence and planning. To date, more than $50,000 has been distributed to local entrepreneurs in industries including janitorial services, retail, food and beauty.
“It helped a lot,” said microloan recipient Tawnni Miles, owner of Juicing Jammers in the Wright-Dunbar District at 13 N. Williams St. “We were able to purchase commercial equipment for our first storefront.”
Miles, a registered nurse, creates small-batch slow-pressed juices, overnight oats, fruit bowls, salads and more with a special emphasis on ingredients important to health and managing conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
She said she funded the first five years of her business personally, but knew opening a storefront would require more. She learned about the microloans through the incubator’s Business Blitz and other programs.
“Getting a loan was very intimidating to me,” she said. “I believe a lot of people have the same fears I had starting out.”
The Culture Capital program offers entrepreneurs support with the loan process, financial wellness education and other services through partnership with local nonprofit CityWide and UD’s student-run Flyer Consulting.
Business owners who meet certain eligibility requirements, including being in operation for at least one year, can apply. The deadline is Oct. 14. The application is available online at thegwdi.com.
The microloan program builds on the efforts of the Greater West Dayton Incubator, created in partnership between community and University leaders to support underrepresented businesses as they launch and grow by providing access to co-working space, consulting, training, capital and other resources.