Small Businesses Have Been There for Us.
Let’s Be There for Them.

This pandemic presents unprecedented challenges, together we can help address this crisis.

This page highlights ways you can help today.

“Small business used to define America's economy. The pandemic could change that forever.”

Heather LongEconomic Correspondent, Washington Post
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CDFIs: Responsive Local Lenders

As communities across the US grapple with the negative health outcomes and economic fallout brought on by the current pandemic, long-standing inequities within our country have been exacerbated. Communities of color continue to experience a disproportionately high number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths as well as higher rates of unemployment, reduced hours, and evictions 1.

It has never been more critical to mobilize in support of the people and communities hit hardest by the impacts of COVID-19, but there is also a fierce urgency to build better communities and support equitable systems as we emerge from this unprecedented time. 

Right now small businesses are especially vulnerable to the impending economic crisis2. Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), local lenders that know their communities, are well equipped to rapidly meet the individual needs of small firms and are a viable pathway to getting capital to entrepreneurs in need. 

Find your local CDFI and connect with them to make a grant (charitable contribution) to bolster your local small business recovery efforts.
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The Economic Fallout

Small Business at Risk

The full breadth and permanence of COVID-19’s economic impact is currently unknown, but we can be sure that the small businesses of America face an existential threat. Businesses with fewer than 500 employees account for 48% of American jobs and 43.5% of GDP 3. The current economic downturn is putting immense pressure on their already fragile finances. Here, too, the negative shocks brought on by the pandemic are disproportionately felt by people of color (POC) and women. 

The 1.1 million small businesses owned by women and POC are an essential job source, employing more than 8.7 million workers and annually generating more than $1 trillion in economic output. Women alone own nearly 300,000 small businesses, employing 2.4 million workers 4

These underrepresented small businesses are more vulnerable to COVID-19’s effects for several reasons. Typically POC and women entrepreneurs face barriers to capital in the first place – such as the existing disparities in fund allocation and capital investment, limited access to credit, as well as the fact that these businesses are more likely to be concentrated in the industries most affected by the pandemic. 

Supporting these communities to prevent further damage is critical to the economy’s recovery, but also critical in advancing racial and gender justice in the US.

Supporting Small Businesses

Supporting Small Businesses Through CDFIs

Small businesses need support now. Federal aid and emergency funding are not enough in the face of the unprecedented capital needs small businesses have.

CDFIs have a proven history of responding to disasters of all types and being lenders of last resort during recessionary periods when conventional banks retrenched 5. Additionally, CDFIs are mission-driven institutions which prioritize social, economic and racial justice for underserved communities. Central to CDFI success is the work they do to empower communities from within by generating economic developments and driving sustainable solutions that help address their most pressing needs.

Today, CDFIs are working with small businesses across the country to fill the growing capital gap small firms face in light of this pandemic. 

We must direct more capital to these lenders (CDFIs) that have proven durable and aligned with the communities they serve.

Click to see additional resources.

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Where to activate your cash

Now, more than ever, the work CDFIs do is paramount to helping small businesses and protecting our economy. 

We have seen organizations and individuals alike join the conversation for sustainable change. The fact is low- to moderate-income communities bear the brunt of financial strain, and communities of color bear the brunt of negative health outcomes. On top of that federal aid continues to largely neglect these groups despite their disproportionate need.

This map highlights areas of need that align with CDFI coverage, giving investors a clear path to high-impact direct local investment opportunities. 

Our longstanding commitment to sustainably invest in these communities of color is now critical, as is our role in expanding the channels for capital to reach the groups which need it most. Click here to submit an inquiry about creating a customized investment with CNote.

Visualizing Need

COVID-19 Economic Vulnerability Index & Black Communities Map

The map above combines economic vulnerability data and demographic information for black populations to illustrate counties that investors, interested in racial equality and/or economic recovery from the pandemic, might want to deploy investment capital into.

Understanding This Map

Areas of darker shades show greater levels of economic vulnerability or demographic concentration. Counties with dark indigo coloring represent the highest percentage of black inhabitants and the greatest levels of economic vulnerability.

This map layers data on county-level economic vulnerability during COVID-19 as well as census data on the percent of any given county’s population that is Black. Each variable is represented on the map by a color gradient: the vulnerability index is indicated by the pink color and the percent of the population that is Black is indicated by the turquoise color. As the index value or percent rises from “low” to “high”, the shade becomes darker. The legend available at the bottom of the map provides a guide to interpreting the map’s shading as well as the thresholds for “low,” “medium,” and “high” for each variable.

Additionally, every legend item identifies how many counties within the US it represents by percent. This addition is meant to help communicate the breadth of vulnerability right now. For example, you would see that in total 1,048 counties have high economic vulnerability index scores. There are 3,142 counties in the US altogether, so about 33% of American counties are experiencing high economic vulnerability.

19.5% of the counties seeing the greatest economic vulnerability have a high percentage of Black residents. 


This map is based on three data sets.

  1. The COVID-19 Economic Vulnerability Index produced by data researchers at Chmura
  2. Census data sourced from the American Community Survey (ACS)
  3. CNote’s proprietary data of CDFI coverage on the county level

Additional Resources

Below you’ll find resources for small businesses, including business relief programs, special CDFI relief funds, and local initiatives.