‘Kitchens of Africa’ Founder: More Women Small-Business Owners Need Access to Loans
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Women small-business owners in North Carolina say access to financing is a key component of helping women reach economic success.
Jainaba Jeng, founder and CEO of Kitchens of Africa based in Raleigh, an African-inspired specialty foods company, is originally from West Africa. She said she sought to recreate the foods of her native country in easy-to-use sauces.
She noted the community development-focused Self-Help Credit Union guided her through the process to get her first commercial loan.
"They were able to look beyond my current circumstances and saw all the hard work that I had put in over the years," Jeng recounted. "They judged me not on what I was going through now, but on what I had achieved throughout the years that I had the business."
Research shows around 52% of women business owners have access to bank credit, and often get offered smaller loans and pay higher interest rates compared with men.
According to the National Association of Women Business owners, more than 11 million businesses nationwide are owned by women, and more than five million by women of color.
Jeng added the financial assistance has helped her grow her business.
"I have been able to expand my product line," Jeng explained. "I started out with two jars; now we have seven different SKUs on the market. "
Tina Postel, executive director of Loaves and Fishes based in Charlotte, explained because women often have the added demands of child care, and might have gaps on their resume due to leaving the workforce, women end up losing out on income over time.
"Sometimes it is a bigger struggle for women to get ahead economically," Postel remarked.
Since the onset of the pandemic, many small businesses have closed or are barely staying afloat. Last year, Gov. Roy Cooper announced a statewide program to help funnel $12 million to help boost economic recovery of state-certified minority and women-owned businesses.
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