The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) has closed the first two investments out of its new Colorado BIPOC Micro Equity Fund, a $2 million program to provide equity-like growth capital to entrepreneurs of color operating in the state, funded by The Colorado Health Foundation.
The financing is akin to “friends and family” capital—patient, flexible, financing with repayment tied to profitability and growth rather than a conventional schedule. Entrepreneurs only repay the financing if and when they reach positive benchmarks. This type of capital frequently seeds the growth of small businesses but is often out of reach to people of color and other historically under-resourced groups.
“The new LISC Colorado BIPOC Micro Equity Fund will create jobs and support economic growth in communities that are not well-served by traditional financing programs– building opportunity for generational wealth,” said LISC Capital Innovation Lab Director Yvonne Durbin. “The Colorado Health Foundation’s investment enables LISC to bring this innovative pilot program and financial product to small businesses in the state of Colorado.”
The program invests in businesses with revenues between $250,000 and $3 million that have been operating for at least two years. It prioritizes businesses located in economically disadvantaged communities that can deploy capital for business improvement and growth. Investment amounts are related to a borrower’s revenue potential and range from $50,000 to $250,000.
“Certain communities – particularly communities of color – have historically had challenges accessing growth capital to scale their businesses, even if it is an extremely successful business. There is little to no access to a ‘friends and family round’ of funding to take their successful businesses to the next level,” shared Ben L. Bynum, MD, senior portfolio director, impact investing, with The Colorado Health Foundation. “This Fund offers businesses founded by BIPOC Coloradans access to very patient growth capital that does not dilute owners’ equity stake in their businesses. Philanthropy’s role in this Fund is to protect the downside risk for our community partners. In this partnership between LISC and the Foundation, if a business is unable to hit its growth metrics, philanthropy steps in and assumes the obligation on behalf of the business.”
The Colorado BIPOC Micro Equity Fund’s first investment is in Taco Block, a taco catering company founded by Adrian and Brenda Bonilla. The program’s investment will enable Taco Block to make upgrades to a newly purchased commercial kitchen space and outfit two new food trucks. These upgrades will allow the business to expand its reach, hire additional staff, and grow revenue.
“My wife Brenda and I feel very fortunate to have received a $200,000 investment from LISC to our small business,” said Adrian Bonilla. “Taco Block has been in business since 2006, and we are passionate about tacos specializing in serving from our state-of-the-art food truck. This funding will be very helpful to build our first commercial kitchen that will be the headquarters for Taco Block food trucks. Their product is a great fit for us because we don’t have to put any money down, and we will pay it as soon as our revenue increases.”
The program’s second investment is in Alchemy Ritual Goods, a retail shop and “ancestral medicine clinic” located in the Five Points neighborhood of Denver. Alchemy Ritual Goods was founded in 2017 by Lalania Carrillo and Flor Marquez, who have since brought on an additional partner in Faatma Be One. Alchemy offers ceremonial tools, books, education, and most importantly, provides space for BIPOC and other under-represented wellness practitioners, artisans, and community members to seek support for their individual or collective spiritual journeys. LISC’s growth capital will help finance a move into a larger space and support infrastructure upgrades for online sales.
“Our little brick and mortar shop was doing great business, but we realized that we needed more physical space to grow. This program gave us access to funds to help us expand our business into new avenues along with a larger, more beautiful shop!” said Lalania Carrillo, co-owner of Alchemy Ritual Goods.
“Equity-like growth capital is important because it gives business owners the time they need to invest in and stabilize their companies”, said LISC Director of Strategic Investments George Ashton. “LISC’s program provides access to patient, flexible capital for small business owners that are poised to grow but haven’t had access to the capital they need to fulfill their expansion plans,” he added.
Further information regarding the Colorado BIPOC Micro Equity Fund is available at https://www.liscstrategicinvestments.org/co-bipoc-micro-equity-fund. Entrepreneurs of color in Colorado interested in accessing capital through this initiative may also contact [email protected].
LISC is one of the country’s largest community development organizations, helping forge vibrant, resilient communities across America. We work with residents and partners to close systemic gaps in health, wealth and opportunity and advance racial equity so that people and places can thrive. Since our founding in 1979, LISC has invested $26.7 billion to create more than 463,000 affordable homes and apartments, develop 78.5 million square feet of retail, community and educational space and help tens of thousands of people find employment and improve their finances. For more about LISC, visit www.lisc.org.
About The Colorado Health Foundation
The Colorado Health Foundation is bringing health in reach for all Coloradans by engaging closely with communities across the state through investing, policy advocacy, learning and capacity building. For more information, please visit www.coloradohealth.org.
About Taco Block
Taco Block was founded in 2018 after the owners decided to move into private catering. It is a mobile business that provides catering services for private clients, corporates, schools, churches, and hospitals. The Company can currently accommodate customer orders from three counties in Colorado (Tri-County, Jefferson County, and Denver County). Owners Adrian Bonilla and Brenda Tapia have over 16 years of experience in the food services industry and have operated food trailers and food kiosks. For more information, please visit www.tacoblock.com.
About Alchemy Ritual Goods
Alchemy Ritual Goods was founded in 2017 by Lalania Carrillo and Flor Marquez. The team recently added Faatma Be One as a third partner. Alchemy offers ceremonial tools, books, education, and most importantly, provides space for BIPOC/QTPOC wellness practitioners, artisans, and community members to seek support for their individual or collective spiritual journeys. The Company also provides holistic healing and wellness services through its Ancestral Medicine Clinic where practitioners provide a range of wellness services, including, but not limited to: traditional Chinese medicine, somatic touch, ancient divination practices, and herbal therapeutics. For more information, please visit www.alchemyritualgoods.com.