COMPTON, Calif. — Only about 18% of U.S. businesses were minority-owned in 2019, according to the 2020 Annual Business Survey.
It is why company Everytable created the Social Equity Franchise program to train entrepreneurs from underserved communities and give them the chance to own a storefront.
Everytable’s mission is to transform the food system by bringing fresh, nutritious meals to everyone, everywhere. But now, it hopes to bridge the gap from the back-end.
Dee Adimora, an Everytable store manager, began her career working the graveyard shift at a fast-food restaurant in her 20s. Over the years, she became a manager but knew she wanted more. Now, 30 years later, Adimora is on her way to owning her own business.
“Being part of an organization that is fighting for food justice in the communities we serve, that just says enough for me,” Adimora said.
Adimora joined the new Social Equity Franchise Program, a model that invests directly in entrepreneurs from marginalized communities that have been systemically displaced from ownership. She said there were opportunities to be a franchisee at her old jobs, but, “You have to come up with your own capital, and I didn’t have that capital. I never saw it down the line as something in my future.”
Historically people of color do not have access to the capital needed to open their business, so this program supplies the start-up costs to their trainees. Anyone with previous managerial experience can apply to be part of the year-long training course that prepares them to own a franchise with no money out of their pocket. They will receive a yearly salary and do not have to pay back the loan until their store is profitable.
Executive Director Bryce Fluellen said this is his life’s purpose: to bring those who would not normally have this opportunity to the forefront and show that anyone can do it if they have the right resources.
“There isn’t a talent gap. There is an opportunity gap. We want to even the playing field. If you look at the root of the food inequality, people haven’t been given the opportunities. If you do not come from generational wealth or you cannot get access to a bank loan, you are shut out from the system,” Fluellen said.
This process also hopes to break the cycle because he said if people see more business owners who look like them, it will empower them to work toward the same goal.
“When someone walks through the door and sees someone that looks like them, comes from their neighborhood, it gives them the idea that it is possible,” Fluellen said.
Adimora never thought she would be able to own her own business and can’t believe she is only a few months away from doing so.
“I think that final step of being the franchise owner will be surreal,” Adimora said.
She hopes other companies will follow suit and give their employees the chance to make it because everyone deserves a seat at the table. Visit their website to learn more on how to apply.