The Institute for Justice hosted the “Beyond the Bank: Alternative Financing for Your Small Business” event on Thursday at the John Hopkins Carey School of Business in Baltimore. Attended by nearly 50 people, the event focused on alternative funding for small businesses and entrepreneurs (a common concern heard by IJ’s Activism team) through an informative, interactive panel discussion.
The panel provided a wealth of information and direct engagement with attendees, covering topics ranging from credit builder programs, saving, crowdfunding and microloan programs. Attendees also heard from LaQuicha Brown, an esteemed local entrepreneur who was recently profiled as one of Baltimore Business Journal’s Enterprising Women of 2017.
LaQuicha’s successful dessert business started back in 2014 when she simply sent a text out to friends offering chocolate-covered strawberries for Valentine’s Day. Her friends then began to forward her message to their friends and family, and before she knew it, she’d taken over her kitchen at home, preparing orders for people holiday after holiday. She is now the proud owner of Berries By Quicha, LLC which has two locations in Baltimore City.
Other panelists included Ty Alston of Kiva Baltimore who offered insight into crowdfunding, a form of peer-to-peer lending; Jonathan Reyes, a lending officer at the Latino Economic Development Center who elaborated on credit builder programs that ultimately help entrepreneurs gain access to micro-loans and eventually to traditional loans from banks by improving their credit; and from Lauren Stebbins of the Opportunity Finance Network, who highlighted her organization’s efforts to connect aspiring entrepreneurs to a network of community development financial institutions, committed to investing in underserved communities.
IJ continues to listen to the Baltimore small business community’s concerns, identify their needs, and collaborate with both residents and small business owners to advance their rights through grassroots activism, and legislative reform. The Institute for Justice is eager to build on these types of activism efforts and will host the Entrepreneur Launchpad in Baltimore next month. The Launchpad will be a series of workshops for the small business community and will be held on September 23rd at the University of Baltimore.
Pablo Carvajal is the Baltimore Activism Manager at the Institute for Justice.