Tech entrepreneur Kelly Ifill launched Guava, a full-service, digital-first banking institution, in 2121. Guava focuses on providing much-needed financial services to small Black businesses, which often experience roadblocks in dealing with major banks. Ifill recently announced she raised $2.4 million in a pre-seed round led by venture capital firm Heron Rock.
“Black folks had to be entrepreneurs, we had to build businesses to support our families, but because of racism, we were excluded from so many opportunities,” Ifill told TechCrunch. “Guava aims to tackle the racial wealth gap head-on by facilitating the growth and resilience of Black small-business owners, creators, and entrepreneurs.”
Ifill plans to use the funding to increase her team of eight and launch more credit products to provide access to capital for entrepreneurs in rural areas.
It is often difficult for small Black-owned businesses to get vital funding and financial guidance from banks due to racial disparities. Some 30 percent of Black small business owners reported access to credit as their main financial challenge, compared to just 12 percent of white business owners, according to the Federal Reserve’s 2021 Small Business Credit Survey.
Black-owned companies are often denied loans; just 13 percent of Black business owners reported they received the full amount of funding, as compared to 80 Percent of white business owners, according to the Federal Reserve.
This is where Guava steps; it will help them to prepare their finances and paperwork which could ultimately lead to more of receiving funding.
It was due to Kelly’s own personal and professional experiences that led her to create Guava.
Kelly began her career in education, leading the math departments in Brazil and Dubai, before obtaining her MBA and pivoting to EdTech investing, Essence reported. She then worked in Brooklyn. She noticed the challenges that Black businesses faced in financial support.
With Guava, Ifill hopes to narrow the racial wealth gap by providing financial services to Black small businesses and creators. With Guava entrepreneurs can check expenses, budget, transfer money, track growth and connect with other entrepreneurs looking to scale their businesses.
“Not only have legacy banks underserved Black communities for decades, but they also failed to recognize the vast financial opportunities they missed by doing so,” Ifill said. “Digital banks like Guava can help by providing broader access to core services, networks and liquidity.”
Photo: Kelly Ifill, LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com/in/kellyifill/