Starting a small business can be difficult for anyone, but minority communities have an even larger struggle.

“The reality really presents itself relative to banking and securing loans with regards to such things on the mortgage side as redlining,” Ossie Kendrix, President & CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin said. “Those are some similar mechanisms that have been utilized when African Americans go to traditional banks to secure a business loan.”

“Am I proud to be part of the 13 percent? Yeah,” Clifton Phelps with JCP Construction said. “But at the same time, I’m ashamed it’s not 30 percent.”
Phelps and his brothers started their construction company from their parents’ home 12 years ago. They said they faced many issues of systemic racism in trying to get started.

“Access to capital is a real issue,” Phelps said. “Outside of taking care of your personal credit, you have to have assets. You have to have people put faith in you to give you money. Then, you’re taking a high interest loan to get started and in addition to those high interest loans, that back office is so important.”

For others, getting started meant relying on the money in their pocket.

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