GRAND RAPIDS — Rende Progress Capital, a small business lender to companies owned by entrepreneurs of color, will host a networking event Thursday that’s designed to introduce minority-owned businesses to one another and prospective new customers.
The BIPOC Vendor Pop Up event — scheduled for 4-9 p.m. Thursday at the Goei Center at 818 Butterworth St. SW in Grand Rapids, will showcase nearly 50 vendors from a range of industries, including food services, digital marketing, construction and industrial design.
“We want to showcase some of our customers that we’ve worked with and introduce other business owners to (Rende Progress Capital) as well, while introducing the public to some businesses that they might have known existed,” said John Hendershot, business development director for opportunity at Rende Progress Capital. “We’ll also have a handful of our partners in the entrepreneurial support space there as well and maybe some of our customers that weren’t aware of them either and the resources they have.”
Rende Progress Capital organized and is sponsoring the event in partnership with the NAACP, Spring GR and West Michigan American Asian Association.
Founded in 2017, the nonprofit Rende Progress Capital is a community development financial institution (CDFI) that focuses on “excluded entrepreneurs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Rende established the RACE4Progress Fund, which provides $10,000 to $25,000 low-interest small business loans with flexible terms.
The organization defines excluded entrepreneurs as “African-American, Asian, Latino, Native American and Immigrant business owners representing underrepresented business owners of color in the Grand Rapids Area and West Michigan facing documented statistical barriers to traditional capital due to racial bias by some lending institutions.”
For the past four years, the organization received annual $125,000 technical assistance grants from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund. Rende Progress Capital also in 2020 received a $500,000 investment from Meijer Inc. to support lending, programs and services.