The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the way that capital and services flow to underserved Main Street businesses, has opened the application cycle for The Tapestry Project, an initiative dedicated to advancing Black business development.
AEO’s recent report, The Tapestry of Black Business Ownership in America, explored the rich diversity of Black-owned businesses, their untapped potential, and the challenges that impede their success. Specifically, the report identified three gaps whose interplay creates those barriers: a massive wealth gap that leaves Black entrepreneurs with less assets and disposable income to invest in business; a credit gap that results in reduced access to formal credit and high denial rates; and a trust gap that stems from historic and current institutional bias, which prevents Black business owners from actions that could help their businesses, such as applying to financial institutions for more capital or creating partnerships. The Tapestry Project addresses all three challenges simultaneously in order to effect change that makes a difference for Black entrepreneurs across numerous industries.
The Tapestry Project consists of two parts: the Tapestry Project Innovation Registry (TPIR), an online resource to connect existing projects, innovations, and interventions that help Black business owners with opportunities for more funding and attention; and, the Tapestry Project Action Lab, which will award up to $50,000 to select applicants nationwide to advance a shared business development objective that addresses the interlinkage of the three gaps illustrated in the report. Action Lab contracts will be awarded in at least five cities, for the development and testing of existing collaborative approaches to address these barriers. AEO will work closely with the winners to support on-the-ground efforts over the course of the three-year initiative.
“Our report gave much needed clarity on what keeps Black businesses from maximizing their potential and also the actual cost to the economy,” said AEO President and CEO Connie Evans. “We know what the problem is, and we believe the Tapestry Project will provide a much needed infrastructure to support innovations essential to amplifying the growth of Black firms. There are organizations out there that are doing remarkable things. We want to share their stories, broaden their reach, get them more funding, and connect them with like-minded collaborators to implement solutions that will eradicate these barriers that are affecting the success of Black-owned businesses so negatively.”
AEO will host informational webinars for individuals and organizations interested in applying, on July 23, 26, and August 2. Applications for both the registry and action lab will be accepted from July 17-August 7, and more information on the project and webinars can be found here: https://aeoworks.org/tapestryproject.