Chambers can choose from a wide array of options to support diversity, equity and inclusion in their communities. Some chambers choose to focus on ways to support minority-owned businesses through supplier diversity programs or small business accelerators. Others plan programming that gives the business community and the broader community a chance to have conversations or learn more about diversity, equity and inclusion topics. It may also be helpful to consider how working with other community partners might enhance the chamber’s programmatic work on DEI. Even small steps can be valuable in the long run.
In response to the pandemic, the Indy Chamber (IN) launched a Rapid Response Loan Fund administered by their Business Ownership Initiative (BOI) in partnership with Bankable, a local nonprofit lender. The team provides free one-on-one business coaching and access to lending capital to small businesses affected by COVID-19. This unique partnership allows COVID-19 relief efforts to reach businesses that may be unable to typically qualify for funds under the guidelines of traditional financial institutions:
"The Indy Chamber has issued 215 Rapid Response Loans, disbursing a total $4.15 million. Of these loans, 65% went to businesses owned by women or minorities, which can likely be accredited to the novel partnership between the chamber and CDFIs. For the PPP loans, the Indy Chamber reported issuing 171 loans for a total of $3.14 million. Of these, 76% have gone to minority- and women-owned businesses. With the average PPP loan amount being fairly low—around $21,000—there is an indication that the chamber is prioritizing helping microbusinesses that may not otherwise have had relationships with traditional banks. The inclusiveness of their loan distribution has made the Indy Rapid Response Fund a national model for a chamber-CDFI partnership that achieves inclusive small business recovery."
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Chambers host a variety of events to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, ranging from a series of dialogues or monthly events to larger events such as conferences and diversity summits. Here are a few highlights and tips for hosting your own successful events.
As the world becomes increasingly diverse, the number of minority-owned businesses is on the rise. Chambers are responding to this shifting demographic landscape by providing impactful programming to support these under-represented businesses. Support for minority-owned businesses is particularly important at the current time, in part because they have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Below are examples of successful chamber-led programs that are working to advance the state of minority-owned businesses in their regions.
Supplier diversity programs help to promote equitable economic growth and bolster small businesses. While they have existed in large corporations for many years, chambers are now also prompting business communities to adopt and expand these types of programs. Explore how chambers encourage supplier diversity programs in their regions as a strategy for building inclusive economies.
ACCE DEI Division | March 10, 2020 Roundtable Call - In this presentation by Doris Carson Williams, CCE, President and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania, and Belinda Matthews Stenson, Director of the Minority Business Partnership at the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce (OH), share how chambers have encouraged supplier diversity programs in their regions as a strategy for building inclusive economies.