SBA honors U.S. Bank with award for loans to Black-owned businesses in Arkansas


November 14, 2022
U.S. Bank Business Access Advisor Cassandra Kidd, right, with customer Adrienne Tolbert, owner of Adrienne’s Ultimate U Salons.

Investments U.S. Bank has made in support of Black-owned businesses includes the creation of Business Access Advisors, who can expand networking and business development opportunities for Black business owners.

The Arkansas District office of the U.S. Small Business Administration selected U.S. Bank as the Equity Advancement Lender for fiscal year 2022 with the largest percentage of small business loans to Black-owned businesses. Many U.S. Bank employees contributed to this success and some recently celebrated the award recognition in Little Rock during the Arkansas Community Bankers 2022 Bank Management & Director's Conference. 

One particular investment U.S. Bank has made in support of Black-owned businesses is the creation of Business Access Advisors (BAA), like Cassandra Kidd. “The relationships and partnerships that I am developing with organizations in the community have afforded me the opportunity to bridge the connection between Black small business entrepreneurs in the community and ‘traditional’ banks,” explained Kidd, who started working as a BAA one year ago. She is one of nine BAAs across the country in pilot markets who are part of U.S. Bank Access Commitment™, a group of initiatives dedicated to supporting Black communities on their own path to building wealth. 

“The consultative approach of my role as a BAA gives me the opportunity to let customers know that number one, they can trust me, and two, that they are not just a number but a worthy relationship that deserves the same attention as any other client,” she added.

The Director of the SBA Arkansas District Office, Edward Haddock, complimented the Little Rock employees for this achievement. “SBA is pleased to recognize U.S. Bank and their efforts to improve equitable access to capital here in Arkansas for our minority owned business community. The need for focused intentional efforts to deliver capital to minority owned businesses has been readily identified and U.S. Bank has stepped up to help meet that need. We look forward to continuing to fuel the startup and growth of all businesses across Arkansas and nationwide.”

Edward Haddock of the SBA (left), Business Access Advisor Cassandra Kidd (middle) and Missouri/Arkansas Market Leader Mike Richardson attend the SBA award ceremony in Little Rock.

Adrienne Tolbert, owner of Adrienne’s Ultimate U Salons LLC, was referred to Kidd by another banker at a different financial institution because he knew about the purpose of a BAA. Since then, Kidd and employees at the U.S. Bank Geyser Springs branch, have partnered together to help power her potential. 

“I’ve been in business 29 years and didn’t know how important it is to have a business line of credit,” Tolbert explained. “Because of the advice Cassandra provided, it helped me secure funding and I’m now in the process of opening a fourth salon that will feature suites. Someone in Cassandra’s role is able to help take care of small businesses like mine and now I can share my wealth of knowledge to help others. It’s a win-win for all of us.”

Kidd believes this is a great example of using internal and external relationships to help a customer achieve her goal. “I think the more we tell the story of the BAA role in the community and truly guide our clients through the process of scaling their businesses, we will garner the respect and credibility needed to serve underserved communities. It is truly all about building relationships and gaining trust.”

The role of a BAA is to be a trusted advisor and expand networking and business development opportunities for Black business owners, and to provide business and consumer products that help strengthen both the financial profile of the business and its owner. For example, Natasha Hudson conducts monthly workshops in Colorado Springs with the Black Chamber of Commerce; Tim Farrow in the Twin Cities is working with a community development financial institution and the first Black-owned bank in Minnesota to provide monthly financial trainings around owning a business; Delphine Pruitt in Los Angeles worked with an economic development corporation to host a pitch competition where 20 small businesses presented and pitched for funding; and Charlotte’s Tamika Stafford facilitated a U.S. Bank Supplier Diversity event.

“I am blessed because of Cassandra and the role she plays,” concluded Tolbert. “Our relationships with our bankers are powerful and important for the growth of the community.”

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