San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Monday announced a $2.5 million investment in the city's African American Small Business Revolving Loan Fund, expanding the fund to $6.3 million.
The fund, created in June 2020 by Breed and the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce, aims to help Black-owned and Black-serving businesses that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, offering zero-interest loans of up to $50,000 for eligible businesses.
The new funding was made possible via philanthropic support from the San Francisco Foundation and business executive Aneel Bhusri, according to the mayor's office.
"This has been such a difficult year for small businesses across San Francisco, and sadly, Black-owned businesses across the country have been especially hard hit and many have had to close their doors for good," Breed said in a statement. "Small businesses are going to be such a critical part of our city's recovery. As we look to the future of San Francisco, it's critical that our city programs keep focusing on equity and serving those communities that have been historically disadvantaged."
Breed added, she hopes the fund can "give businesses the resources that can help them survive this pandemic and come back even stronger."
"These restaurants, hair salons, fitness studios, bike shops, and other businesses support and anchor our Black communities as important social and economic hubs," Assessor Joaquin Torres said. "The further expansion of the African American Revolving Loan Fund honors Black History Month by recognizing the racial inequities and adversities that have faced and sadly continue to face Black businesses here, while at the same time lifting them up and valuing their contributions by investing in their futures."
AARLF funds have been prioritized for the city's long-standing Black-owned and Black serving businesses, especially those affected most with operations severely limited by the stay-home order like hair salons, barbershops, gyms and restaurants. Business owners can use the funds to pay for things like rent, wages, inventory, improvements, equipment, marketing, and reopening costs.
"Being a black business owner, the loan came through at the right time and in the right amount," said owner of Lacy's Barber Shop Lloyd Lacy.
“I was able to pay my outstanding debts including my backed-up rent and was able to put in the floor tiles that I had been sitting on for two years. I added new chairs, sinks, mirrors and repainted my cabinets. If I had not received the loan I would be at risk of losing my business," he said.
Of the additional $2.5 million in funding, $1.3 million will go toward leveraging additional private sector funding to offer some 30 more businesses zero-interest loans, expanding the number of businesses benefitting from the AARLF to a total of 150. The remaining $1.2 million will be used to cancel the debt, ranging from $5,000 to $50,000, for about 30 longstanding businesses that have already benefited from the funding.