Roland Kamara, Member Relations Associate, OFN
Established in 1997, ACT! has a mission to create economic opportunities that allow aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners in Georgia to build wealth through business support and affordable access to capital, including a contractor working capital loan and a micro business accelerated loan. ACT! became an SBA micro-loan intermediary in 2003, a certified CDFI in 2007, and an OFN member in 2019.
Under the leadership of President and CEO Dr. Thelma Adams Johnson since 2002, ACT! has provided access to $9 million in capital, leveraged over $27 million in private funds, and assisted in creating or retaining 1,032 jobs. ACT! also received a $1 million loan and $200,000 grant from OFN through the Grow with Google Fund at the end of 2020.
ACT! in Action: Food-Centered Community Hub for Entrepreneurship
Based in a rural, predominately Black city in Southwest Georgia, Albany experienced one of the highest concentrations of Covid in the world and continues to grapple with low economic opportunity for residents. To help revitalize this resilient agricultural community, ACT! has teamed up with a 50-year-old civil rights organization and a regional health system to convert an abandoned grocery store into a nearly 47,000 square foot, $14 million community service hub called The Table.
Named for the practice of civil rights activists who gathered around kitchen tables to organize their efforts, The Table will offer rental commercial kitchen and retail space for Black food entrepreneurs, including food truck owners, farmers, and other agriculture-related businesses. In addition, a business services hub will offer CDFI lending, business development, and other technical services. With a focus on health and wellness, The Table will also connect residents with healthcare services and include a mobile clinic.
By creating a community service hub that addresses interconnected health, social, and economic issues that disproportionately impact Black residents, The Table plans to foster a thriving community where food and agri-business entrepreneurs can succeed and residents have increased access to healthy, affordable food, and to affordable healthcare and banking services.
“Out of those ashes [of Covid-19] came something good for Black and Brown businesses,” Dr. Johnson Adams recently shared during a virtual visit with OFN staff to talk about ACT!’s work and how the pandemic helped shed light on longstanding inequities.
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