The Main Point….
When the practice of redlining was outlawed about 50 years ago, the economic challenges of entrepreneurs in underserved communities, who were also people of color, did not disappear. Such neighborhoods remain ripe, even today, for predatory lenders, and their residents have been accustomed to being declined for loans. That’s where Thread Capital steps in. At Thread Capital, we believe everyone in North Carolina who has a viable idea for a business that they want to start or grow, should have the resources they need to thrive.
We’re excited to launch The Main Point, an occasional publication focusing on all things related to microfinance in North Carolina. This month we’d like to introduce you to some of the thousands of entrepreneurs to whom Thread Capital has provided capital, coaching and/or connections. Throughout the month you’ll read about small business owners who have shown resilience and growth in the face of the barriers they encountered. First, we invite you to meet Kenya Thornton who runs a service agency serving Forsyth and surrounding counties.
The Thread Capital Team
Community Intervention and Educational Services (CIES)
“Being a woman of color,” says Kenya Thornton, executive director of CIES, “means it can be very hard to get access to funds and resources we need. Early on in the pandemic, our client base was growing and I needed capital to scale the business, cover overhead, and expand services. Thread Capital gave me an opportunity with a small loan, something that was greatly needed during COVID.”
CIES is a community agency that supports and empowers families and individuals in Forsyth and surrounding counties who are in need of advocacy and services stemming from crises. Ms. Thornton also founded Eliza’s Helping Hands and the State of North Carolina-approved Cool Program. Through all three organizations she offers a wide variety of services from domestic violence intervention and support, mental health counseling, play therapy and much more.
CIES services are available to all in need and she stresses the importance of being equitable in her practices. “I’m a young Black female running a business that helps a lot of underserved communities,” she says. “Historically, we have lacked for services of all kinds. I know what it is like to experience some of the same challenges my clients face when they are not getting access to resources and other basic human needs. Thread Capital gave me an opportunity with a small loan to expand my business and services.”
“While African Americans currently comprise 28.5% of Thread’s loan portfolio,” reports JaLisha Richmond, Director of Lending, “we want that number to continue to grow.” Ms. Thornton would agree, “I want to tell you how hard it is for Black women to get resources. The goalposts keep moving when it comes to Black Americans trying to build wealth for their families. In the work that I do, I try to be an example for those that we help as well as continuing to be a voice and advocate for the needs of communities that have traditionally and are continuously underserved in this country.”
Ms. Thornton expresses her gratitude to Thread. “I appreciate the resources and Thread’s mission to assist with wealth building for young people of color, allowing more opportunities for Black Americans to get the resources and finances for their dreams. But,” she continues, “I would like your audience to know that I think everyone else has gotten their dreams built off our nightmare of slavery, so as we go into Black History month, we all need to be aware of the contributions, struggles, and sacrifices of the foundational Black Americans who have contributed to this country.”
To learn more about CIES and all of its programs, please visit pssofnc.com. There you will find information on all their programs as well as ways you too can help.