By Melanie Layden
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WSMV) — Seventeen Black women who own businesses were awarded loans on Thursday to help their businesses grow during this challenging time.
Nashville nonprofit Corner to Corner created the pilot initiative called Academy Invested that handed out up to $1,000 loans to eligible businesses. They said that lack of access to capital is a major challenge, especially for new businesses owned by Black women in Nashville.
“Since we started the Academy, which is our 10-week entrepreneurship program, we’ve helped over 434 Black entrepreneurs,” Shana Berkeley said. “Our success runs the gamut from side hustle to full-blown entrepreneurship.”
More than $10,000 was given out to help local business owners like Netiya Owens, who owns Royal Massage and Yoga Lounge in Murfreesboro. Her studio is the only black-owned yoga studio in the Nashville area. Owens said the loan will help her with advertising and marketing.
“As a new business owner, with the pandemic and everything, I have exhausted a lot of my revenue trying to keep up with everything that’s going on with the pandemic,” Owens said.
However, it’s not just minority women that Corner to Corner is helping.
Over the years, they’ve helped all kinds of people follow their dreams and grow their business, just like Marcus Buggs, the owner of Coneheads.
“It was really good for me for making those connections and just gaining exposure for what I was doing,” Buggs said. “I’ve lost count of how many events Corner to Corner has turned me to do events fro that has turned into repeat business that has blossomed into our restaurant here.”
The loans given out Thursday were had a small 1% interest rate for local entrepreneurs who graduated from Corner to Corner’s program.
Since its founding in 2016, the Academy has graduated over 400 entrepreneurs, 88% of whom are Black women.
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