OBDC is proud to call Oakland our hometown, and at the end of the year, we want to take a few moments to reflect on the incredible impact of the Oakland businesses we have supported over the years.
OBDC’s work is focused on three strategic areas:
- Lending in parity with the communities we operate in,
- Neighborhood revitalization without displacement, and
- Workforce development and job creation.
Oakland is one of the most diverse cities in America. At a time when only 2% of SBA loans went to African American-owned businesses nationwide (as of 2014), OBDC is proud that 19% of our current Oakland portfolio are African American borrowers. In Oakland, African Americans make up 28% of our population and own nearly 14% of all businesses here. We believe it is critically important to invest in African-American-owned Oakland companies, like Kenny’s Heart & Soul, Legal Support on Your Side, The Cook and Her Farmer, and others.
This year, there’s been a lot of attention paid to the disparity in access to capital for women-owned companies. As of 2014, only 17% of SBA loans went to women-owned businesses nationwide, despite the fact that women are starting nearly four out of every ten new businesses. We’re proud that in Oakland 49% of our active portfolio are women-owned businesses, like A Step Forward Shoes, Uptown Juice Company, Cosecha, and others.
Our commitment and work in Oakland is deeper than it has ever been in our 36 year history. In 2015, we launched the Oakland Business Sustainability Program, aiming to offer existing businesses resources and support to survive the construction of the new East Bay Bus Rapid Transit line and thrive after construction is finished. This work is heavily focused on businesses operating along International Boulevard in East Oakland, and so far we’ve been in contact with over 600 of the businesses currently operating to identify their business needs. We’re also on track to do more lending in this fiscal year in the City of Oakland than we’ve done in our organizational history. We continue to expand our services in Oakland to meet the needs of both existing and aspiring entrepreneurs, and in 2016 we look forward to sharing more about our new programs and the neighborhoods they target.
Perhaps the biggest impact of our community economic development work is in the jobs that small businesses create. In Oakland, we’re proud to support businesses that create nearly 500 new jobs each year. We look forward to seeing this number increase as we continue to deepen and expand our work in Oakland.
We want to wish everyone a happy year-end. To our clients, partners, and supporters in Oakland, we thank you for all your work to help make our hometown great for everyone who lives and works here.