Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bank of America funds project to help women entrepreneurs in Charlotte

Bank of America said Tuesday it is giving $10 million to fund loans for women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses in Charlotte and five other U.S. cities.

The Charlotte-based bank said the loans are part of the Elizabeth Street Capital initiative. Bank of America is partnering with the Tory Burch Foundation on the project, which is designed to provide early-stage women entrepreneurs with access to low-cost loans, mentoring and networking opportunities.

Boston, Las Vegas, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco are the other cities included in the launch. Other markets, which have not been named, are expected to be added over the next two years.

In addition to the funding for the loans, Bank of America will share the project's operating costs with the New York-based foundation.

"Bank of America and the Tory Burch Foundation recognize a huge opportunity to support women-owned businesses," Thomas Montag, co-chief operating officer for the bank, said in a statement.

"Research has shown that women entrepreneurs need better access to capital and more opportunities to build strategic business relationships," he said. "The Elizabeth Street Capital initiative will help address these issues and provide loans and mentoring to women ready to take their businesses to the next level."

Nonprofit entrepreneurial loan centers, also known as community development financial institutions, will determine eligibility for the loans. In Charlotte, Self-Help Credit Union, 926 Elizabeth Ave., is the participating center.

Elizabeth Street Capital is named after the street in New York where fashion designer Tory Burch started her first boutique.

“When we started our foundation, we understood that women entrepreneurs need access to capital as well as access to business networks, and by partnering with Bank of America, we are thrilled to be providing help to women across the United States," Burch said in a statement. "The combination of loans, mentoring support and peer networking expertise opens up new opportunities for women looking to build and grow their businesses.”

For more information on applying for one of the loans or participating in mentoring events, click here.