Webinar Cover

Video: NCRC MicroBiz Capital Accelerator Program (MCAP) Webinar

Online Event Archive Recorded November 3, 2022

NCRC has launched a new grant and technical assistance opportunity, the MicroBiz Capital Accelerator Program (MCAP), exclusively for nonprofit, small business capital providers.

This pilot program is being offered to NCRC members seeking to grow and scale the impact of their capital and other small-dollar loan programs supporting microbusinesses owned by people of color.

During the webinar, we’ll walk you through the grant details, technical assistance offerings, eligibility criteria, application process, and answer any questions you might have.


Joshua Devine, Director of Racial Economic Equity, NCRC
Manan Shah, Racial Economic Equity Coordinator, NCRC
Ibijoke Akinbowale, Director, Community Impact, NCRC
Luis Ortiz, Senior Grant Specalist, Community Impact, NCRC


NCRC video transcripts are produced by a third-party transcription service and may contain errors. They are lightly edited for style and clarity.

Devine:  0:00

I’m joined by Manan Shah, who is our racial economic equity coordinator. You’ll you’ll hear from him in just a bit, as well as our community impact team, Ibijoke Akinbowale, and Luis Ortiz, who will be with us to answer any questions technical about an application portal. I’m so excited for you to be joining us today. Just some housekeeping items. Before we begin, of course, we have a code of conduct. And as we’re grateful to create this positive, friendly virtual space with you all and want to be sure that we’re clear that there is consideration and respect as we engage in conversation about this program, as well as in the chat box. But we’re excited to engage with you all today. We encourage you all to use the chat box for questions and answers. We will be pausing throughout the presentation to accommodate some of your questions and answer them. So please do put them in the chat. And we’ll do our best to get to them as we go throughout the presentation. Additionally, this webinar will be recorded and posted on our website for your reference as you go along. And we’re always available for any additional questions as you apply to the process. For those who are not quite familiar with who NCRC is where national community coalition of community and economic development organizations across the country, we work to ensure that the work that you’re doing on the ground is meaningful, and well resourced we are we have a policy shop, we have our research team, we have an organizing team that’s really working to ensure that investments are flowing into low income communities and communities of color. We coalesce around unique issues such as small business and housing, housing counseling. We have a national training academies to support capacity building from members, all the whole gamut of services we have available to ensure that our members within the coalition are making good progress on the work that they’ve done on the ground. And it’s impactful. And we’re all working together to build a just economy, a fairer economy, and one that’s equitable and inclusive. And we’re super excited to share this particular program with you all today. Just to set the agenda for today, we are going to take a moment to provide an overview of our program. Additionally, we will walk you through some of the criteria around applicants. So sharing a little bit more about the kind of programs and organizations we think are best suited for this particular program. And then we’ll walk you through the application process in terms of what we need from you the questions that we’re asking of you, as well as our timeline for both the application process and the program itself. And as mentioned earlier, please feel free to utilize the chat box for any questions you might have. And we will answer them along the way.

So let’s jump in and get started. So the microbe business capital accelerator program is really a program. It’s a grant Technical Assistance Program. It was birthed out of a number of opportunities and research tasks we’ve done over the course of this year, to really understand the landscape of small business and entrepreneurship across the country. We’ve taken a closer look at the record increase in small business formation numbers, as well as trying to understand the impact that growth in small businesses have on communities of color, particularly in communities with what we come to find our excuse me, our existing or limited weak ecosystems or resources and capacity gaps. So we’re finding the need to also think not only about how we contribute to the scaling and acceleration of small businesses and entrepreneurs, but how do we help communities respond to their needs. We’ve done critical work in places like Baltimore and Atlanta and Detroit, in El Paso, Texas, for example, investigating not only the needs of entrepreneurs of color, but also the organizations that have responded to those needs, the capacity gaps, or they have the challenges and opportunities ahead, as all of us are thinking about recovering from pandemic impacts. So we created this program really in response to some of the insights we’ve gathered from a coalition members. So as noted, we plan on providing between 20 to $50,000 to at least six to eight organizations who are Creating or developing or have existing capital programs supporting micro businesses owned by people of color. The program is a six month program where we engage with you all around three things. So not only do we provide this, this monetary gift that you can use at your discretion, but we’re also providing a suite of services to really support and build capacity of your organization to respond more efficiently equitably, to your biker businesses within your community. So part of the program requires you to participate in kind of peer learning experiences. So the six eight organizations will get together regularly to kind of share resources and challenges as relates to their programs and their impact they’re having in their communities. As a coalition, we pride ourselves around the value of coalition and convening and creating opportunities for shared learning. Additionally, we are additionally, we are providing trainings. So as you are developing your programs as you are implementing your small business or small dollar loan programs, how do we help you ensure that you have the right design, that design is equitable, that you’re implementing the right way, we want to respond to your capacity gaps, we want to help you think through how you fundraise and build the necessary capital to support your programs and how you measure impact. So you’ll be given an opportunity to lead a train and learn from key experts across the field, so that you can do your programs a lot better. And also curating a technical assistance package to provide and assist you as you do the work. And as you engage with us over this six-month period, you’re learning just a little bit more about that work. In just a bit. I will say to you all, that this isn’t just any kind of kind of accelerated program, we are uniquely interested and working with programs and organizations that are leaning towards more equitable and inclusive and innovative models to resourcing underserved entrepreneurs, and small businesses. So we have a focus on working with programs that are really championing models within equity. For example, if you have an interesting community engagement model that you’re trying to deploy, how does are interesting avenues by which you are reaching out to entrepreneurs, maybe you have a capital product that’s affordable or unique, or you’re pivoting your strategy a bit to reach more underserved micro businesses, we want to work with you, maybe you have an interest in technical assistance model, or wraparound social service model that is of unique interest and making an impact in your community, we will also want to work with those kinds of programs. But of course, we are highlighting a focus on micro businesses. So those businesses that are smaller in nature, small in revenue and smaller in employee base for sure, we do not have a geographic criteria for this particular program. But we do want to center our work around and working in communities that are focused primarily in areas that are experiencing significant capital gaps, as well as demonstrating either the need or the demand for more services to support their micro businesses within their community. And I will say that this is not a competitive grant. And by that I mean we’re not necessarily looking for any kind of flashy programs more. So sorry, can you all hear me clearly?

Akinbowale  9:11

Yep, we can hear you just fine.

Devine  9:12

Great. So as I was mentioning, because this is a, this is not a competitive grant is a capacity grant. So we’re not necessarily looking for examples that are flashy and bright. We’re not interested in looking for programs that have made demonstrated impact. For example, we really want to work with programs who are seeking to demonstrate expanded impact, and sequence really think about the programs a little bit differently. So we’re placing the focus on smaller, grassroots small business organizations. Those who are maybe experiencing capacity gaps are limited in funding. Part of the technical assistance package will be to help support and grow your program. But also if you’re if you have a capital problem And that’s in a startup phase, or maybe you just finished your first two years. And you’re thinking about pivoting your design and interested in learning more about how to do that. But how do you do that? With innovation in mind, we want to definitely work with you as well. Or if you’re new, in an expansion phase, if you’re maybe a regional and national partner, and you’re looking to create new programs and specific markets, we’d love to engage with you in this in this programs to kind of help you and assist you, and how to do how to do that as well. So looking forward to share a little bit more about the program as we go along. I’m going to pass the mic over to my colleague Manan Shah will talk a little bit more about the technical assistance aspect of this project.

Shah 10:47

Hi, everyone, like Joshua mentioned, my name is Manan Shah. And I’m the racial economic equity Coordinator here at NCRC. And I’ll just speak a little deeper and what you can expect in our equity trainings. As we know a small business owners of color face systemic barriers to securing private capital. And so the goal of these equity trainings to teach grantees how to create loan products and programs that accommodate the unique needs of bipoc American business owners. And so the equity trainings will be split into two phases, phase one being focused on design and implementation. And in this phase, there are two focus areas, and the loan and product design training. Grantees will learn more about how to create flexible loan products and explore critical loan details like interest rates or repayment plans or loan amounts that can make a difference in increasing access to capital. Grantees will also learn more about racial justice underwriting, in which lenders underwrite loans to small business owners not based on credit scores, but based on values based and character based criteria. The second area of the first phase is program and service delivery, in which grantees will learn how to create an outreach and service delivery model that effectively communicates your program to bipoc Margao business owners and directly engages with them. And some of the training components include you know how to make the pre and post application process easier for borrowers how to build and maintain a relationship of trust with your client, how to deploy and design a culturally sensitive technical assistance model and you know how to engage with government stakeholders like the Small Business Administration or your local government. Phase two of the equity trainings is more focused on scale and impact. You know, grantees will learn how to expand the program assistance to microbusinesses through different funding models. And they’ll also learn how to measure the impact of the programs. And so attorneys really, it’s a capital partnerships and equity funding. Grantees will learn more about the diverse pool of funding sources available to expand their programs and capacity, such as CRA and major bank investments local state and government funds, federal government funds, as well as private philanthropy. And grantees will also explore alternative funding models such as crowdfunding or business to business marketplace lending. And lastly, grantees will also learn how to expand access to venture capital and Angel invest angel investors. For bipoc macro business owners and attorneys related to data accountability and impact systems. Grantees will learn how to utilize new data tools and metrics to evaluate to evaluate the impact of their programs, especially on the growth of these bipoc owned micro businesses that these grant programs are serving. And so this is what grant recipients can expect as part of the equity trainings. The exact content of these trainings is not set in stone and may change based on based on the specific needs of the grantees. But we hope that these trainings will be an opportunity for small business providers to eliminate some of the barriers that bipoc micro business owners face and, you know, just to make the entrepreneurial landscape more diverse and inclusive. And with that, I’ll pass it back to Joshua to discuss the technical assistance component of the grant program.

Devine 14:55

Thank you so much, Manan. There’s a there’s a few questions in the chat box, which we will address shortly. I just want to underscore if you have additional questions, please do ask, just related to the technical assistance component. So we wanted to provide an opportunity to train small business resource providers on a number of different funds that Manan had mentioned. But we also understand that the needs of organizations across the coalition are unique and specific to their communities, to their organizational structure. So we’re also ensuring that there are a package of technical systems that we can offer to you all. So our team is the NCRC team, rather, is filled with a number of different experts and expertise, in terms of research and advocacy. And program development, particularly as we ourselves as a national coalition do provide lending assistance to small businesses, and technical assistance through our Women’s Business Center. So we have a lot of expertise at the staff level to really support some of the needs and priorities of your program as you’re thinking about growth and expansion. So on the research side, we can support you in assessing your community, and understanding that little bit business losing community, but the capital ecosystems that currently exist, particularly for organizations who do not have that kind of capacity to do this kind of analysis themselves. We’re open to respond to that need. If you are thinking about convening stakeholders, as you grow and develop and launch programs, or as you’re thinking about advocating for future funding, we have a policy and advocacy shop and organizing team that can really help support these kinds of connections and make those connections available to you. As well, as you know, on the strategic planning program development side, if there are nuances or challenges in your work as it relates to the deployment of your capital loan programs, we can certainly provide the necessary consultation to ensure that your program growth and expansion is success. So we have that available. grantees who join the program will we will assess those needs, and kind of put together a package that works for you, for your needs or for your program over time. I’m going to pause here to address maybe some of the questions in the chat box. Before we move on to the next portion of this presentation. The first question was around if the program will consider supporting venture capital funds that provide micro equity investments in minority owned businesses? And the answer is yes, we’re not necessarily just interested in loan funds. We are interested in organizations with grant funds as well. But any kind of innovative capital program that we think is viable and innovative to support micro businesses, we’d love to connect with you. There’s a lot of innovation in this in this particular field, particularly around equity investments. So we’d love to kind of understand a little bit more about how to your model, which we can learn through the application process. But then, at the same time, ensure that you have the right resources and the training, you need to ensure the success of that model that you’re championing. The second question is around is a program only for organizations that provide capital themselves within organizations that connect entrepreneurs with capital providers apply as well? That’s a really interesting question. Primarily, our focus is on organizations that are the actual actually lending capital to small businesses. But the nerd in me is really curious about your particular model. And how you maybe are leveraging your, your connection and your, your, your proximity to lenders to support micro businesses in your community. We’d love to talk a little bit more for the ones who did submit this question. Whether or not this program directly fits for you. So please do send me a quick email after this. And we can talk. But I’d love to learn a little bit more. But primarily the program is for those organizations who are actually providing capital to small businesses. Another question is what is the time length of the trainings? How many of our staff may participate in what have you quoted for our staff that cannot attend? That’s really great question. We are in the process of creating a training portfolio that’s self paced. So you will have the opportunity to, you know, participate in these trainings at your own leisure discretion and time and pace. I think at the same time, as part of the trainings, not only will we kind of utilize our National Training Academy infrastructure to provide these trainings, but there will also be opportunities to kind of plug in and tap into other national experts or national models that you can also learn from. So that’s along the way. Well We’ll do as grantees join the program is we’ll actually set a schedule of what that six month process will look like for each organization. So we can determine at that point, how soon or how quickly those changes will happen. But we are positioning them to be at the organization’s pace. All staff members can participate is not necessarily required. I think program directors of capital programs are those staffers who are uniquely involved in the design of your capital program, but its deployment in the community. Those staffers are really, it’s really important for those staffers to participate in those trainings. That yes, they will be recorded. And you’ll have them available to refer back to you at your discretion. All right, we’re going to go ahead and move on to talking a little bit about the application process. So for those who are unfamiliar, or this may be your first time applying to a grant within in CRC, we do have an application portal, which will walk you through in just a bit where you can apply for this particular grant opportunity. The application process is split into four key categories. There’s of course, the executive summary that gives us insight into some of the details of your organization, your contact information, and kind of the purpose and intent of you applying to this particular program. But there are three additional sections that are super critical to us as we kind of think about which programs we want to include in this pilot. The first is around community narrative. So we want to really understand a little bit more about your community about the landscape of your businesses in your community. And kind of the role that you as an organization played to respond to some of the needs that you’re seeing, as you’re engaging with micro businesses. The program narrative is really all about your program. What is your capital program? What’s the size and scale of this particular program? What impact is it having if it’s already launched? And if so, how are you measuring that impact, you want to learn a little bit more about the model that you’re championing in your community, which is going to be super important to us, the back end around grantee selection. And there’s also a section on capacity building, because this is a capacity grant. We want to make sure we understand what your needs and challenges are, as you are deploying new programs, so that we can tailor both the training as well as the technical assistance offerings, to your needs, and to your priorities. And of course, in any general grant application process, there are required documents that you will need to provide to us to ensure that we have the necessary information about your organization. So being prepared to submit an audit as well as for my mind needs some staff biographies, if your program is situated in some sort of partnership model, really understanding who those partners are, and the connections they have with the program. And of course, as well as any impact reports that you might have, with existing programs to date. In addition to the application, we are working through a criteria by which we would select which grantees or which which programs we want to include, as part of incap, we have decided on four key areas that we think are critical criteria as we evaluate your applications. Because this is a capacity grant, we are looking at program growth, we’re trying to assess and understand, does this particular capital program or you know, model that you’re championing doesn’t have the potential for expansion? Is there demand in the community?

Is there an appetite for funders and partners in the community impact or need that you can demonstrate? So we’ll we’ll take a look at that we’re also taking a look at organizational capacity. Even though you’re perhaps a small organization, do you have the capacity to grow? Or are there resources that we can marshal if you will, to ensure that as your program grows, your organization grows as well. We are controlling for equity, we want to make sure that you are reaching the right folks, or that you’re intending to reach the right folks. So there are questions around your target audience of your program, as well as different sectors, if any that you’re focused on. And then of course need alignment. So as we think about innovation in this space, as we think about what are micro businesses and entrepreneurs need. At this time. You want to be sure that these needs are embedded into the design of your particular program. So we’ll be looking out for In just how aligned your programs are, to the needs of the communities that you identify the application process, in the questions within the application really give us an idea, and information and insight on how we can kind of control your programs or evaluate your programs across this criteria. So as we’re thinking about programming expansion, some of the questions in the application that are really critical important, include, is this a new or existing program, and we want to learn a little bit more about your approach. How did you develop this program? Or how do you plan on expanding this particular program? These insights will be super helpful to us as we think about the growth of your particular model. On the organization side, of course, we want to understand your organizational budget, but we’re also asking questions, such as your program budget, or who your program partners are, and what are your capacity strengths? What are your challenges that you’re facing as an organization as you’re deploying this program, that will give us a little bit of insight in terms of, you know, where we could ensure that we are providing the right resources and the right trainings to support capacity and capacity growth overall. In terms of equity reach, there are questions in application around who you target primarily. What are your strategies to actually engage in with micro businesses and entrepreneurs in your community? If you have a loan program or interested in loan model, what is your criteria? And what are the requirements? What are the parameters you’re putting into place? And then there’s a specific question in there around, you know, capacity and expansion, as you’re thinking about growth of your program. As you’re thinking about growth in a particular market. What are the questions you’re asking yourselves, all of this will be helpful, as we think about not only how you’re currently reaching out to underserved micro businesses and entrepreneurs, but how our program with this program can help you expand and strengthen my reach. And lastly, on need alignment. So there are questions in the application around technical assistance models for for those programs that have this kind of approach. There are also questions around understanding your small business landscape, kind of thinking a little bit about how your program actually responds to the needs that you’re you’re including in your application process. And of course, as mentioned earlier, about your capital program criteria, we’ll use these questions to really understand and assess how aligned you are with the needs in your community, but also how aligned you can be with the help this program will provide. So that’s pretty much the application criteria and applications. Questions that you’ll see within the application process. I’m pausing once more to see if there are any additional questions in the chat box. And I do see one, which states do you know when you expect to notify the awardees? And that’s a great question and a great segue into our timeline. So we launched applications in October. We are closing applications November 25. And you have the NCRC staff at your disposal. If you have any questions regarding your application. We plan on actually selecting grant applications at the end of January will take some time between then and program launch, which is a much to kind of put together contracts, really assess your needs and really tailor the program specific to your priorities. And that will launch in March and end the program around August timeframe.

Akinbowale  28:56

Joshua, one more question here. How do you define grassroots organizations by income or number of employees?

Devine  29:04

Great question. We so we are adopting what we consider to be the model of exercies membership tier. So for example, we identify small organizations as organizations that are, quote unquote, less than $500,000 in budget I believe. But we also are identifying grassroots organizations by their I would say their impact in proximity to communities of color and micro businesses in need. So yes, whether you are a small organization on the budget side, or you may be a regional organization that has close proximity, and access to close proximity or access to your underserved entrepreneurial market. We’ll take that into consideration. as what we define as grassroots organizations, yes.

Akinbowale  30:07

And as a follow-up to that Joshua, Tamila, is seeking clarification around the $500,000 or smaller?

Devine  30:15

That’s correct. Yes, our smallest tear for inserting membership is less than 500,000 guests. That’s not to say that a budget greater than that will be disqualified from the program. But we do want to ensure that we’re targeting kind of these smaller organizations that we can then grow and scale over time.

Devine 30:42

Great, if there aren’t any additional questions made on timeline or criteria, I do want to quickly walk through the application portal for those who have not engaged in system as of yet. So as I mentioned earlier, there is an application portal in crc.smith.com, that you will get access to if you are in CRC member, will you can where you can access our micro distance capital accelerator program application. I will say, Am I still? Can you all still see my screen here? Okay, great. I will say that there are quite a bit of features that are at your disposal as you’re preparing for the application. Preparing to submit your application, you’ll have an opportunity once you start the application to actually email us directly. So if you have a particular problem with your, with your application, or a question on a particular, or a question on a particular applicant application question, feel free to reach out to us through the system. We will also share some emails at the end of this presentation as well. But most likely, you will see all of the questions across those four critical areas that we have mentioned before. So questions around executive summary questions around community narrative questions around capital program narrative, capacity building and attachments. As part of this portal, you have the opportunity to actually respond directly and actually save your work. So there’s a menu bar here, that gives you the opportunity to save and quit. So you don’t have to flip or complete the application in one sitting, you can always come back to it. There’s also an option to actually preview these questions. So you can either download this particular question list so that you have it separate from the portal, you can work on the questions outside of the portal, and then come back to the portal to include your answer to the questions in the system. So that’s also available to you. Of course, the last section around attachments are also available. So you can also upload documents relevant to the question at hand, and Submit when you are ready. So as always, continuing to drill down on the point that NCRC staff is available. If you have any additional questions or problems or challenges related to submitting the application. We are open and willing to assist you in any way possible. There’s also an opportunity to change your notifications within the portal system. So you so if we’re sending messages to you as an applicant, you will be able to get those notifications in your email inbox. That’s also found in your kind of dashboard as a member when you first log into the portal. Alright, I’m going to pause once more to see if there are any additional questions in the chat box.

Akinbowale 33:58

Yeah, it looks like you got a couple, Joshua. One says can you participate in the incubator even if he didn’t win the grant funding?

Devine  34:07

Oh, that’s a great question. So I would say as part of, since we’re, we’re providing grants to six to eight, programs and organizations, we want to make sure that we are providing and giving our attention to those who attend those who are selected for the program. We can talk. Well, I can talk internally with the team about making those trainings accessible. I will say part of my job as as a head of our racial economic equity team is to work closely with our national training academy to provide necessary resources, trainings, and tools to support all of our coalition member is so there is a good possibility that the work that we do the trainings that we provide could be be accessible to those who do not receive funding initially.

Akinbowale  35:05

Another question, he says we are the backbone for a smaller organization. We are NCRC members and have a larger budget. But the organization that provides capital has $100,000 budget, would that be considered?

Devine  35:18

Yes, there’s actually a point or a section within the application process that allows you to reveal that kind of nuance. So we will ask questions about your, your larger organization on budget, but there’s also questions specific to your program and your program budget. So yes, those kinds of organizations will be considered when those kinds of program approaches and setup will be considered as well.

Akinabowale  35:51

All right, here’s another I believe we may have covered this. Question around the income size of an applicant organization, what is the range to qualify?

Devine  36:02

Sure. So I, I will probably say that we aren’t particularly restrictive. In terms of organizational budget and size, we do want to focus on grassroots organizations, as we mentioned earlier, so those organizations that are indeed smaller, or those in close proximity to their kind of underserved market. But to clarify, it’s not, or their budget sizes include. So if you’re a small organization, less than $500,000 in revenue, we will consider that as as a smaller kind of grassroots organization. But if you are a regional and national entity that is working to expand your program, and in particular market, we’re not necessarily disqualifying those kinds of applicants within the process as well. So we’ll we’ll consider all program sizes, organization sizes, with with critical focus and eye towards those organizations that we can grow and expand whether that’s expanding smaller grassroots organizations, or helping larger organizations expand to critical markets.

Akinbowale  37:24

Added in the next question was the same as what you’ve just covered.

Devine  37:29

Okay, great. Cool. Are there any other questions, comments or queries we can answer while we’re on call in the webinar with you all?

Devine 37:57

Seeing none, just want to close out with some email links. So for those of you who are engaging in the portal, and you need some help, as mentioned earlier, you can directly email us via the portal to get your questions answered. But we also have an email address at impact@ucsc.org. You can also respond to some of your questions. If you have general questions about the program, specifically, whether or not you qualify any other questions noodling in your head as you’re processing what we presented today, feel free to reach out to me my email is Jay divine@garcia.org. Here, there is a requirement that those who do apply becoming CRC members, so for those on the webinar, who aren’t members, you can check out in WWI ncrc.org/members to get you connected within our coalition. And please feel free to reach out to me if you if you need additional insight information on those steps. And of course, as always, we are hosting a ton of trainings and events for our coalition members. So please do take a look at our events page on our website as well, for further resources and opportunities to engage.

Akinbowale 39:15

And Joshua looks like we have another question here regarding is the size add up. So I’m losing it all right, is the size of the response based on word or character length and it is a word limitation. There’s another question here. It says if we are a member of our state affiliate, does that mean we are members of the National NCRC? I think we would probably need a little bit of clarification on that relationship, Meridth and so if you want to flag it for the impact@ncrc.org account, we’d be happy to and answer that individual case for you. No more additional questions.

Devine 40:04

Sounds good. Well, thank you all, one for taking the time to chat with us and to engage with us on this project, we are really excited to not only help you, for those who are interested in applying, but also, you know, engaging with those six to eight organizations we identified throughout the program. Again, we are really excited to not only identify across the country unique loan products or capital programs and models that are out there really supporting micro business and micro businesses and underserved entrepreneurs are really amplifying and scaling them to a level that creates greater impact both for the business but also for the owner. And so we’re super excited to engage with you all long term. please do reach out with people questions and thank you for your time.

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