In keeping up with the times, and continuing to close the gap between white and non-white business funding, four community banks in Virginia and West Virginia have launched an initiative to cater to the growing Black community of business owners.

In a press release announcement, Fauquier Bankshares, Inc. and its principal subsidiary, The Fauquier Bank, have announced that they’ve launched a minority business fund designed to help and develop local communities. Fauquier is teaming up with BCT- The Community’s Bank, Bank of Clarke County, and First Bank to launch the initiative.

This unique minority business fund will release $1 million in interest-free loans to aid both startup and existing minority-owned small businesses within the sponsoring community banks’ markets. There are two loan programs: one for startups and one for existing businesses.

Beneficiaries of the fund must meet certain qualifying guidelines, of course. For example, the businesses must be for-profit only (no not-for-profit/501 (c)(3) organizations), they must be certified by the MBE (Minority Business Enterprise), and they must be able to show documentation that proves they’ve been in existence for more than three months if a startup, or two years if an existing business.

What’s more, businesses can only qualify for the minority business fund if the business is 51 percent owned and operated by one or more minority individuals who are United States citizens or legal resident aliens – or – 51 percent equity ownership in a corporation, partnership, or LLC or other entity and is owned by one or more minority individuals who are United States citizens or legal resident aliens, and both the management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more minority individuals.