$22 Million Investment From Truist Foundation Aims To Support Minority Owned Businesses

CHARLOTTE, N.C. —  Owners Shamika and Roberto Brooks combined their love of hip hop music with their passion for healthy smoothies to create Hip Hop Smoothies –  a unique option for the Charlotte community. 

” We wanted the people to come in, enjoy, read the menu, sing the songs and have a good time,” Co – owner of Hip Hop Smoothies Shamika Brooks said. 

However,  running a small business isn’t easy. 

” We make the smoothies, we greet the customers, we do our payroll. We pretty much do everything.” 

They’ve expanded to three locations and kept their businesses  open during a pandemic, but as black business owners they say one of the biggest challenges they face  is gaining access to capital. 

 Lynette Bell, president of the Truist Foundation said a  $22 million dollar multi year program will help strengthen small minority owned or BIPOC small businesses by providing access to funding. 

“ Where there are gaps operationally, or where there are gaps on the financial components that are needed to get that access to capital and that funding they’re going to be there to be that resource,” Bell said. 

 Shamika said she and many other black business owners have struggled with getting funding. 

” It’s  really been hard. We’ve applied for loans at a bank or two and each time we’ve been denied without really any type of recourse or any type of information for why we were denied,” Brooks said.   

 She said  the investment from Truist  could help them expand their marketing outreach and  continue to grow their business. 

” Being able to start getting cups that have Hip Hop Smoothies names on it and being able to get into other locations such as school,” Brooks said.