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NJCC & AACCNJ Launch the Equitable Small Business Initiative

February 18, 2021 Press Releases

New program will expand financial relief and long-term investment for Black and underrepresented minority-owned small businesses in New Jersey

February 18, 2021 // New Brunswick, New Jersey  – New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC) and the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ) announced today the formation of the Equitable Small Business Initiative, a $5 million commitment to bring capital to small business enterprises in New Jersey, focusing on support for Black-owned businesses most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The partnership is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between a community development financial institution (CDFI) and a New Jersey-based Chamber of Commerce. Eligible and interested small business owners can apply for a loan starting April 1, 2021.

Black-owned small businesses have faced historical challenges in securing access to capital, contributing significantly to limited financial health, startup capital, and access to credit and profitability. The economic downturn of the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these financial challenges. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the number of active Black businesses experienced a 41% drop between February and April, challenged by limited access to financing to sustain operations. The Equitable Small Business Initiative builds on the long-standing commitment of NJCC and the AACCNJ to help address systemic inequities and support the needs of underrepresented communities.

“Through this collaboration, we will be responding to the call of business owners who desperately need resources to meet their objectives; this is the right partnership to make a difference,” said John E. Harmon, President and CEO of AACNJ.

“Although our work at NJCC has always been rooted in racial, economic and social justice, it is incumbent upon us to ask what more we can do to promote opportunity and equality,” said Wayne Meyer, President of NJCC. “The Equitable Small Business Initiative addresses opportunity gaps for Black small business enterprises in the state of New Jersey by building a more equitable lending ecosystem to improve economic opportunity, create jobs and support a more just economy where even the most vulnerable communities thrive.”

The Equitable Small Business Initiative provides a holistic set of resources to help address the immediate financial needs of small businesses and provide a pathway towards long-term sustainability. Accepted candidates are eligible to receive additional resources for their businesses, including high-touch and individualized technical assistance, capacity building and administrative support.

The initiative is supported by investments from the Pascale Sykes Foundation (the very first investor), the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“Black-owned small business owners across the state are facing far too many challenges and are in need of immediate assistance to help recover from the effects of the pandemic,” said Frances Sykes, President and CEO of the Pascale Sykes Foundation. “NJCC and AACCNJ are uniquely positioned to provide much-needed access to capital for recovery and resiliency during these uncertain times.”

For questions regarding the Equitable Small Business Initiative, please contact Phillip Woolfolk of AACCNJ by email at

New Jersey Community Capital

New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC) is a nonprofit community development financial institution (CDFI) that provides an innovative toolkit of financial products, programs and services to advance equity and opportunity in underserved communities. NJCC supports the preservation and development of affordable housing and sustainable community development ventures that increase jobs, improve education and strengthen neighborhoods to ensure that communities can thrive. To learn more, visit and Twitter: @NJCLF.

The African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey

The African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ) performs an essential role in New Jersey’s Economy. As affirmed in its mission statement, the Chamber seeks to economically empower and sustain African American communities, facilitating entrepreneurship and free enterprise activity within the state, with direct outreach programs. Different from acting as simply an association of allied businesses, the Chamber serves as a proactive advocacy group. While providing a collective voice for New Jersey’s African American business leaders, the AACCNJ advocates and promotes economic diversity while fostering a climate of growth through major initiatives on the educational and public policy levels.


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