Strategic Inclusive Communications Director
(Washington, DC) – Kansas was one of nine states invited by the Office of the Vice President to attend a high-level “Roundtable on Increasing Capital to Entrepreneurs of Color” at the White House on June 14.
The roundtable was convened by the Office of the Vice President, U.S. Treasury Department, and the U.S. Department of Commerce and facilitated by Janis Bowdler, Counselor to Secretary Yellen. Invited participants included state administrators implementing Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) as well as representatives from the corporate and philanthropic sector. SSBCI provides capital to help promote entrepreneurship, by providing capital particularly among traditionally underrepresented groups and across underserved geographies. Kansas was one of the first five states approved for SSBCI 2.0 funds in 2022. The nine-year program will provide Kansas with close to $69 million in capital for Kansas small businesses. The funding created GROWKS, a series of loan and venture capital programs that is overseen by the Kansas Department of Commerce and administered by NetWork Kansas.
To date, Kansas has approved more than $6.6 million in loans to 67 businesses through the GROWKS Loan Programs. In addition, GROWKS Equity Programs have made 19 equity investments totaling more than $3.6 million. These investments include an investment in the first African American owned Kansas business to raise more than $1 million in equity investment, WorkTorch. (https://www.startlandnews.com/2022/11/quickhire-worktorch/) Finally, the GROWKS Multi-Fund invested in KCRise III, a hyper local fund that recently raised $34 million with expectations to invest in 20 businesses in the Kansas City region. (https://www.startlandnews.com/2023/06/kcrise-fund-iii/)
Steve Radley, Chief Executive Office for NetWork Kansas, attended the White House Roundtable convening. There, he joined the discussion on the Initiative for Inclusive Entrepreneurship (IIE), a public-philanthropic collaboration to expand access to capital for small businesses owned by people of color, including in Kansas. Announced by Vice President Kamala Harris in October 2022, IIE supports SSBCI implementation and aims to catalyze long-term systemic change by increasing access to capital for underserved entrepreneurs.
“It was a really wonderful meeting with lots of engaged people trying to make a difference,” says Radley. “[Kansas] was asked to share what we are doing because of how we have designed our GROWKS programs.”
The roundtable discussed inclusive entrepreneurship, democratizing access to capital in underserved communities, local empowerment and cross-sector strategies for expanding capital access for entrepreneurs of color as part of the SSBCI and IIE.
The IIE pilot program builds on the opportunity of the SSBCI 2.0, which is projected to leverage the $10B provided by the Treasury Department to states, U.S. territories, and tribal governments into $100B for small businesses over the next decade. Kansas will work with Hyphen, a nonprofit intermediary, to expand resources available to Kansas businesses through the IIE.
In a separate news release, Hyphen announced that it will partner with three leading innovators—Founders First Capital Partners, JumpStart, and Next Street—to support capital providers serving small businesses owned by people of color. With lead support from JPMorgan Chase, Skoll Foundation, MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation and expected support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Wells Fargo, IIE will work initially with nine states—California, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, and Washington—to capitalize the historic, $10 billion in funding from the American Rescue Plan through the SSBCI. IIE will also be adding one to two Tribal Nations once applications are approved.
“We are honored to work with the Hyphen Partnership alongside the Kansas Department of Commerce and the US Treasury Department and more than 550 NetWork Kansas partners and Entrepreneurship Communities to provide capital to businesses across Kansas in this challenging environment. SSBCI funding has come at the perfect time,” explained Radley.
NetWork Kansas, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, is dedicated to making entrepreneurship a priority for economic and community development in the State of Kansas. NetWork Kansas connects aspiring entrepreneurs, emerging and established businesses, to a deep network of business-building and community development resource organizations across the state. NetWork Kansas facilitates the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem within participating communities through the E-Community Partnership. Contributing factors to successful development include the availability of financial capital, support by local leadership, and development of educational resources. All of these factors combine to increase entrepreneurial activity in participating towns, leading to increased startup activity, business expansion, job creation, and more. NetWork Kansas is also the home of e2 Entrepreneurial Ecosystems (e2) and Entrepreneurial Growth Ventures. Visit: www.networkkansas.com.
GROWKS Programs are funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative. The programs are overseen by the Kansas Department of Commerce and NetWork Kansas. Visit: www.growks.com.