So far at ProsperUS, most of what I’ve learned has revolved around business practices and how low-income and individuals of color struggle to become entrepreneurs. I learned about the wealth gap, the trust gap, and the credit gap. After learning about these disparities that affect all Black-owned small businesses in America from the AEO Tapestry report, it is easy to apply this to the context of Detroit and to see how the entrepreneurs whom I will be interviewing are affected in the same ways. In summary, the wealth gap refers to the overall lack of wealth Black Americans have compared to White Americans, and this provides a barrier to starting a business. With lack of wealth comes a lack of credit, and Black entrepreneurs are more likely to be denied a loan or approved for a lower amount than they requested. Finally, the trust gap refers to the distrust of lending institutions toward people of color, as there is an institutional bias that discourages business owners.
I think for ProsperUS, the Covid-19 pandemic initially created challenges, as the traditionally in-person entrepreneurship training courses had to move online, and it became more difficult to interact with community members. However, I’ve now heard that planning this course is easier this way in some regard, and they can move forward with the program. Also, in terms of the businesses I am directly engaging with who are apart of the Tapestry x FoodLab x ProsperUS fellowship, I think the pandemic slowed their progress. Most of these businesses seem to be getting on their feet, so I feel that Covid-19 has stalled their growth and possibly drawn their attention away from the cohort, but I am not entirely sure yet.