Manchester NAACP, NH Community Loan Fund team-up to support minority-owned businesses

Greater Manchester pilot program will be community driven.

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Manchester NAACP President James McKim, left, and NH Community Loan Fund Community Business Lender Zachery Palmer. Courtesy Photo

MANCHESTER, NH  Recognizing that small businesses owned by people of color face persistent challenges, the Manchester NAACP and New Hampshire Community Loan Fund are launching a community-based effort to deliver financing and coaching to help those businesses thrive.

The Community-Driven Economic Empowerment (C-DEE) pilot program’s goal is to bring people of color together as a community to create a more resilient local economy. It draws on the historic work of Manchester NAACP in advocating for equal economic opportunities, and the Community Loan Fund’s economic development experience.

“Our community members continually ask how they can be their own agents of change and growth; how they can control their own economic destiny,” said Manchester NAACP President James T. McKim. “We know that communities are most successful in addressing challenges and achieving goals when solutions come from within. So, it is important for us to create a structure where those in the community drive how resources are applied in the community.”

At the heart of the effort will be a Community Business Development Council, a volunteer group of business owners who will identify and refer peers who could benefit from technical assistance and loans.

“Who knows more about the value of neighborhood businesses than the people who live there?” said Community Loan Fund Community Business Lender Zachery Palmer. “We believe our success in Manchester will rely on listening and respecting cultural differences and cues, just as good business owners do. And we can help ensure their success by connecting them with technical assistance providers who are also listening and respecting the cultural cues and differences.”

Mercy of God African Market is the type of neighborhood business C-DEE seeks to support. From left, owners Beatrice and Emmanuel Adekoya and Julius Aregbesola. Courtesy Photo

The listening has already begun. The initiative began with interviews conducted by Deo Mwano Consultancy with 45 business owners in Greater Manchester who identify as black, indigenous, or people of color, about their strengths, struggles, and what their businesses need to succeed.

The interviews revealed that the business owners generally were resourceful and resilient, had excellent relationships with their customers, and offered unique products and services customized for the cultures they serve.

Many said they faced similar challenges, including technology, financing, and bookkeeping. Few felt connected to business institutions, such as banks or industry groups. C-DEE hopes to change that, by connecting business owners of color with customized coaching, and by inviting local banks to participate in the loans it generates.

The Community Loan Fund recently opened an office on Amherst Street.

C-DEE is supported by funders including Bank of America, Santander, Bangor Savings Bank, NBT Bank, Cambridge Trust, and the Endowment for Health. McLane Middleton Law Firm and the Small Business Development Center have already signed on as technical assistance providers.

About the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund

The New Hampshire Community Loan Fund turns investments into loans and education to create opportunity and transform lives. Since 1996 it has provided loans and coaching to support the growth of small businesses and their ability to provide quality jobs. Established in 1983, the Community Loan Fund was one of the first Community Development Financial Institutions in the nation, and has received industry awards and recognition for social impact, financial strength and performance. For more information, visit or call (800) 432-4110.

About the NAACP

Founded in 1909 in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation. We have over 2,200 units and branches across the nation, along with well over 2M activists.  

The Manchester Branch was formed in 1964. Our mission is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in The NAACP is a c4 organization (contributions are not tax-deductible).

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