Inez Long, Black Business Investment Fund of Central Florida
Helping 'as many small, minority and underserved businesses as possible'
Fifth-generation Floridian Inez Long grew up in Winter Garden and attended the University of South Florida, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She then got her MBA from the University of Central Florida and became a commercial banker in Orlando. In 1990, she left SunTrust to join the Black Business Investment Fund (BBIF) of Central Florida, an Orlando-based non-profit that provides loans and financial coaching to black and minority business owners. Long has led BBIF as president and CEO since 1991.
- BBlF’s Mission: “We’re a community development financial institution, a CDFI. We borrow funds from large banks and then loan those funds out to minority businesses. We also ask for donations to support the training we do for businesses. Our whole objective is to help the businesses become more viable, to scale up and grow and hire more people.”
- Reach: “We employ 17 people. We have offices in Orlando, Miami-Dade and Jacksonville. We partner with a couple of organizations to do work in Tampa and the Pensacola area.”
- Typical Borrower: “Our customers generally have annual revenues of less than $3 million and have been in business for at least two years. We very rarely invest in startups. We partner with the Small Business Administration to do community advantage loans of up to $250,000. A small business that wants to borrow less than $300,000 would come to us vs. going to a national bank because most national banks don’t want to do deals that small.”
- Coronavirus Impact: “These businesses need a lot, and now they need even more. With everything that’s going on, many of them can’t repay the money we’ve already loaned them. We’ve got to defer all those payments and lean strongly on our banking partners to increase our loan-loss reserves so that we can withstand the situation.”
- Challenge: “CDFIs that are black-led face discrimination when you compare our ability to raise funds to CDFIs that are white-led. It takes BBIF more time to raise capital from the community than it does white-led CDFIs. It’s easier for people to write checks to folks they know and they’re more comfortable with. Networking is very important; relationships are very important. But as you know, folks let you in to certain networks or don’t let you in to certain networks. I’m just aggressive. We’re going to push forward. All I can do is go into the marketplace, raise as much capital as possible, help as many small, minority and underserved businesses as possible and show the impact of my work.”
Read more in Florida Trend's November issue.
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