The Truist Foundation’s recently announced $1.5 million grant will help to solve wealth and racial disparities among first-time truck owners, with Accion Opportunity Fund offering responsible capital, coaching and networks to small businesses owned by people of colour, women, and low-to moderate income entrepreneurs.
Through these funds granted by Truist Foundation, Accion Opportunity Trust will pilot a Down Payment Assistance Fund which will help more Black and Latine individuals, as well as women, become first-time truck owners and entrepreneurs in Maryland and Georgia. This is part of Accion Opportunity Fund’s overall strategy to close gender and racial wealth gaps by investing in and supporting overlooked and underestimated entrepreneurs across the US.
The grant was formally announced at Coppin State University, a historically Black university in Baltimore, when Maryland Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller, Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott, Truist Financial Chairman and CEO Bill Rogers, and Accion Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia gathered to explore the impact of this work in Baltimore and beyond.
Lynette Bell, President, Truist Foundation said, ‘Truist Foundation recognises the need for more tangible resources for women and people of colour entrepreneurs. Truck drivers quite literally drive our economy, and we are honoured to partner with Accion Opportunity Fund to ensure that more first-time truck owners have a path towards affordable capital. This new Down Payment Assistance Program will help create quality job opportunities in our communities and propel our local economies forward.’
Over the past year, Accion Opportunity Fund disbursed 2,422 loans totalling $113.2 million in capital to small businesses, primarily to entrepreneurs of colour, women, and/or low- to moderate-income entrepreneurs. Since launching trucking lending in 2010, Accion Opportunity Fund has invested over $360 million in trucking through more than 6,300 loans, including loans to more than 5,700 first-time truck buyers.
‘We are grateful for this new relationship with Truist Foundation, which will provide critical support for women and people of colour in the trucking industry. Access to capital and resources should not be a barrier for first-time truck owners looking to drive wealth creation for themselves and our broader economy. The Down Payment Assistance Program will provide new opportunities for economic mobility for these entrepreneurs who are too often shut out of the traditional financial system,’ said Luz Urrutia, CEO, Accion Opportunity Fund.
Through the Down Payment Assistance Fund, more people will be able to participate in the trucking industry with support to fund their truck down payment costs, sustain their businesses and establish a path to economic mobility, with entrepreneurs of colour and women having historically experienced larger barriers when it comes to obtaining finance to start or grow their businesses. With over half of Baltimore’s privately held businesses being owned by Black, Indigenous, or people of colour individuals, and the US’s small business boom additionally being led by people of colour, these groups are still more likely to be denied credit, or approved for smaller amounts than white business owners. Accion Opportunity Fund aims to create equal opportunities, as well as grow the revenue for business-owning households which currently earn over twice the wealth of wage-earning peers.
Truist Foundation is committed to Truist Financial Corporation’s purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities. Established in 2020, the foundation makes strategic investments in nonprofit organisations to help ensure the communities it serves have more opportunities for a better quality of life.
Accion Opportunity Fund works to create an inclusive, healthy financial system that supports the nation’s small business owners by connecting entrepreneurs to affordable capital, educational resources, coaching, and networks.
Simon Hungin is a freelance writer that supports Alliance magazine.