Ebony Dickerson left a corporate job five years ago to start a small beauty-supply business. Her mother, Sally Boyd, is the longtime owner of a child-care business.
They have growth plans on the North Side of Minneapolis, where they both grew up.
Dickerson, owner of Hair, Beauty and Wellness, and Boyd, owner of Personality Childcare Learning Center, wanted a building along W. Broadway Avenue to house their expanding businesses.
That likely would be too great a financial stretch, according to Meda, the agency they are using as their business adviser.
So the mother-daughter team joined forces with North Side lawyer-developer Ian Alexander, who is working with Meda, banks and investors on the Resolute, a $19 million commercial-residential project planned for 1300 W. Broadway. It will include a restaurant and 70 housing units. Alexander expects to break ground next spring.
Boyd, who plans a day care for up to 150 kids, and Dickerson will own their spaces in the development. Dickerson's brother, a barber, will join her as owner of the Resolute's barber shop and hair salon.
"I didn't have the capital for a full-line beauty-supply store in 2016," said Dickerson, who started with hair extensions. "But Meda made my first working-capital loan of $50,000. And Meda helped me develop and grow the business."
Meda's management, confident after several years of growth, including financing and advising 400 minority-owned businesses during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, also is charting a growth plan from its north Minneapolis headquarters.
Fifty-year-old Meda partners with commercial lenders and others to assist historically undercapitalized, minority-owned small businesses achieve profitable growth.
The board of Meda, which has raised capital in recent years from supportive corporations, banks and foundations, last week approved CEO Alfredo Martel's plan to quadruple its loan portfolio to $150 million over the next four years.
Last year, Meda made $23 million in loans and also placed more than $40 million with partner lenders, as a leading provider of credit and other aid related to the pandemic.
"We are sustained in this work by a generous community of supporters," Martel said at the agency's annual meeting on Wednesday. "We have the leadership, staff and systems in place to affect real and lasting change. We have the passion and courage it takes to disrupt cycles of injustice, poverty and violence. We know transformational change happens when BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and people of color] communities own their own businesses, grow those businesses, and pass them down to the next generation of entrepreneurs. We know Meda can do more.''
Tested by the joint crises of COVID-19 and riot-related damage to many Minneapolis-St. Paul small businesses, Meda consultants last year assisted 700 businesses owned by people of color. Almost one-third were new clients. Its lending team made loans or grants to more than 1,200 Minnesota businesses through private and public recovery funds.
The Meda board previously approved more than doubling its capital over several years to $75 million from bank partners, corporations and foundations.
Minority-owned small businesses, including immigrant- and female-owned enterprises, are the fastest-growing component of the startup world. And they sustained the worst losses and failure rate during the pandemic-induce recession. They tend to be thinly capitalized and lack the reserves to survive a significant downswing.
Meda, a U.S. Treasury-certified Community Financial Development Institution, often supplants traditional financial institutions that can't make a buck lending to fledgling or marginal businesses that require a lot of TLC. The big banks get credit from regulators for investing in Meda. And they pick up some successful customers as they outgrow Meda.
Martel said part of Meda's strategy is expanding its loan portfolio, plus picking up several million dollars in capital every quarter that in turn leverages more credit for borrowers.
"In Minnesota, pre-pandemic capital demand for BIPOC businesses was $645 million," said Martel, a veteran business owner and corporate executive who took over Meda in 2019. "Last year, 72% of our clients said their No. 1 need was capital for survival and recovery.''
Meda also will expand its low-cost digital programs and in-person and online business counseling.
Martel also is expanding Meda's supplier-development program. Meda this year will connect 200 minority-owned businesses with government and corporate renewable-contract opportunities, making Meda one of the top "contract matchmakers" for people of color in the country.
To reach more small businesses with in-person and virtual expertise, Meda is launching a "volunteer accelerator network'' of business attorneys, successful small business owners, corporate managers and others who embrace its mission.
"And Minneapolis will be the innovation hub," Martel said.