Groups Help Reduce Barriers for GA Women in Trucking
Thursday, May 18, 2023
Two groups are working to create equal opportunities for Black and Latina women in the trucking industry.
The Truist Foundation has pledged $1.5 million to the Accion Opportunity Fund to support the Down Payment Assistance Program, which aims to empower minority women by helping them become first-time truck owners and entrepreneurs.
Luz Urrutia, CEO of the Accion Opportunity Fund, said the step is crucial in bridging the equity gap for underrepresented groups.
"America is in the midst of an entrepreneur boom with record numbers of small businesses, and they're led by women and people of color," Urrutia pointed out. "At the same time, there is a $130 million financing gap for small businesses who need less than $100,000 in this country."
Urrutia noted since 2010, Accion Opportunity Fund has invested $360 million in the trucking industry, providing crucial support to more than 6,000 first-time truck buyers through loans.
Nicole Ward, president of the African American Women Trucking Association and a trucking entrepreneur from Georgia, has firsthand experience with the challenges faced by women of color breaking into the trucking industry.
Despite encountering setbacks when trying to purchase her first truck, Ward persevered and now advocates for others in her community to do the same.
"I thought it would be as easy as purchasing a car, but I didn't realize that entering the industry you are looked at as a weaker link because it's a male-dominated industry," Ward explained. "Instead of jumping into the transportation industry I had to crawl in because I didn't have a certain financial support that was needed."
Ward hopes the Accion Opportunity Fund Program sets a precedent for other financial institutions in ensuring equitable access to funding for entrepreneurs of color.
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