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Pilot project gives Black business owners monthly money with no strings attached

Posted at 11:47 AM, Jan 26, 2021

We've seen cities across the country testing or talking about guaranteed income programs where people get money with no strings attached.

One pilot project is now seeing success using a similar model to help Black business owners and address the structural racism they have experienced.

“Sometimes it's the smallest amount of money, just like we realized here. The difference between those businesses closing and them staying afloat was $1,000 a month. It was a small amount of money, but what we did as a lender, which was really unique, was look holistically at this and say it mattered to us to see those businesses in our portfolio survive,” said Jessica Norwood, the found of Runway, the firm behind the money going to Black businesses.

Runway gave companies in Oakland and Boston $1,000 a month, no strings attached, from March to December.

Norwood says every business could use the money how they wanted and all of them ended up being able to stay open.

Along with the money, they also received business, mental and emotional support.

“To have somebody come in and say, ‘don't stress right now, we've got you, we will figure this out together, because we're all trying to figure this out,’ I think that's the difference in the kind of money that we're talking about and hopefully the kind of money I want to see everybody talking about,” said Norwood.

She says they've gotten requests to expand the pilot to other cities. And she wants to support others who want to bring the “business basic income idea” to their communities.

Right now, Runway is looking at the next way it can help. Norwood wants to keep raising money and giving it out. You can find out about getting involved at