Racial and ethnic minorities comprise nearly 70 percent of Long Beach residents, and many of them are small business owners. Supporting these entrepreneurs is a critical part of the city’s 10-year economic plan. The Economic Development Department enlisted FUSE executive fellow Daniel Han to help connect minority and women entrepreneurs — who have typically been less able to access traditional bank financing than white, male entrepreneurs — to alternative sources of capital.
After analyzing the ecosystem of small business lenders in Long Beach, Daniel honed in on RAILs — responsible, affordable, inclusive lenders — as a promising source of low-interest capital. To help business owners understand their options, he created a guide in multiple languages that lists local RAIL lenders, their respective loan products, and the potential advantages and disadvantages of each. He also convened stakeholders from across the city interested in inclusive lending, and he launched four user-centered pilot programs aimed at raising awareness of RAILs among local business owners. Daniel’s work is helping entrepreneurs who are poorly served by traditional financing networks find alternatives to grow their businesses.