New fund targets growth for Black business owners
An Indianapolis-based nonprofit is looking to provide a boost for minority entrepreneurs. Be Nimble Foundation has launched the Nile Capital Fund in collaboration with Columbus-based Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI), the city of Indianapolis and Impact Central Indiana. The $1.5 million fund will provide revenue-based equity loans and traditional equity investments of up to $25,000 for Black founders.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Be Nimble co-founder Jeff Williams said the fund has been six years in the making.
“It’s been a result of the ongoing support that we’ve done for entrepreneurs from our accelerator programs over the years and some of the results that those founders that we’ve worked with have seen to really help them accomplish their goals, including scaling up their company but also impacting the greater Indianapolis, as well as state and Midwest economy,” said Williams.
The goal of the fund, the nonprofit said, is to help businesses increase staff and tech stack capacity, assist with supply chain and logistics, and prepare businesses for potential venture capital and retail opportunities.
The initial recipients of capital from the fund are Black women-led beauty, health and wellness companies that have come from Be Nimble’s #AddToCart program, which serves as a retail and e-commerce fellowship and accelerator.
Each of the companies – Rose of Sharon Naturals, Skin I’m In, D’Vine Beauty Bar, The Botanical Bar and FBN Skin – have received $5,000 seed grants to help scale their businesses and secure additional capital funding.
Be Nimble said the fund will also allocate dollars to Exhale, an app created by Indianapolis entrepreneur Katara McCarty that promotes self care, relaxation, stress reduction and inner strength among Black Indigenous women of color.
“Society has ignored the health and wellbeing of Black women for too long, which is exactly why I am unapologetic in my pursuit to create space specifically for Black women navigating everyday stressors and the effects of systemic racism,” McCarty said in written remarks. “It’s more than an app — it’s a movement. Be Nimble is leading that movement with this fund. The Nile Capital grant will allow me to launch the much-awaited 2.0 version of my app.”
Williams said the fund is another way to help bridge the wealth gap among the Black community and remove barriers to capital investment for Black founders.
“When you think about the wealth gap within our communities, we see we don’t typically have an opportunity to get that at the same rate as our brothers and sisters of various races,” he said. “So for us, it was important [that] our organization existed to help close those gaps, because as we knew, within our community…with respect to funding, having that access and that network and that ecosystem to support us in that same rate, it was limited.”
The early feedback from founders, Williams said, has been very positive. He said before the fund, the largest grant that the foundation has been able to provide was around $10,000, and now they can provide more on a regular basis.
“With that number being able to to increase at a extensively higher rate, you’re talking about [businesses] being able to hire folks. They’re able to build out their minimum viable products, and then also get some of the technical support they needed to that. In many cases with startups, they’re typically one move away from actually getting to that next level.”