When the Covid pandemic hit, Jose Reyes and his daughter Ana Reyes, owners of one of DC’s most prized restaurants for 40 years, El Tamarindohad to raise money to quickly build an outdoor seating area to comply with new social distancing guidelines and expand their kitchen.
The pandemic took a heavy toll on the district’s small businesses. early 2020, over 1,000 small shops closed; 2,300 by March 2022 impacting the owners, employees and communities that have relied on them. But like communities across the country, DC residents have banded together to support their favorite local businesses through takeout orders, retail merchandise pickups and even Go Fund Me campaigns to help them survive.
Seeing how committed the DC community was to supporting small businesses, the Reyes family decided on a unique program that would give DC residents the opportunity to invest directly in El Tamarindo – the DC Rebuild Bond program— where they raised nearly $102,000 from investors to complete the projects SMBX.
“Our partnership [with SMBX and the City] allowed us to see how important neighborhood brackets are to communities. Through these investments, we saw how deeply connected our customers were to El Tamarindo, but also that the larger community felt the same way,” said El Tamarindo owner Ana Reyes.
The DC Rebuild Bond Program is a partnership in between SMBX, the financial marketplace that connects skilled small business owners with everyday investors, as well as DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Deputy Mayor’s Office of Planning and Economic Development (DMPED). His goal is to steer $5 million in investments into the district’s small businesses. The program places particular emphasis on Districts 5, 7 and 8 – areas that have experienced economic discrimination and have been denied access to capital.
By participating in the DC Rebuild Bond Program, Washington, DC residents have a new opportunity to support small businesses in the district while gaining more control over their money, earning passive income and rebuilding their local communities.
The DC Rebuild Bond program allows companies to issue an innovative credit product, the Small Business Bond™, with no initial fees. Investors can invest for as little as $10 and receive monthly principal and interest payments while supporting their favorite local businesses. They gain more control over their investment funds, allowing them to choose what type of investments they want to make, including the option to keep the wealth creation in their local community.
Since launching in September 2021, 12 companies have raised over $1.1 million including local favorites Lucky Buns, Sticky Fingers Sweets and Eats, Maketto and Trini Vibez, with more small businesses joining the program and investors adding their small businesses daily buy bonds. Local restaurants Arepa Zone and Selenoas well as arts and events venue tool boxare currently seeking investment from the DC community.
DC Go-Go music legend Charles “Shorty Corleone” Garris, Founder and CEO of Innovative shotsGMBH in Anacostia, recently used the SMBX marketplace to raise additional funds to promote his TV show “Capital Kidds,” a teen variety show that has recorded over 80 songs and delivers compelling educational content. Funds will also be used to create “Crank Chips,” an innovative, one-of-a-kind DC snack with a unique QR code to spark conversations about community and culture.
“We’ve been blown away by the response from the community,” Garris said. “Investors large and small believe in our company and its mission and support our expansion. It was so encouraging to be able to raise funds for our business in this way.”
“That’s why we partnered with SMBX to see how the district’s entrepreneurs are thriving and thriving,” said John Falcicchio, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. “It’s so important for small businesses to have access to finance, especially for entrepreneurs of color, and to ensure more Washingtonians have a fair chance.”
SMBX CEO and co-founder Ben Lozano praised Mayor Muriel Bowser, Deputy Mayor John Falchicchio and the DC Rebuild Bond program. “We are partnering to help DC entrepreneurs and investors advance their goals and endeavors in a community-focused and community-led way,” said Lozano. “By turning neighborhood fans into active investors in their favorite businesses, we are creating a financial system that benefits everyone in the community and helps maintain the cycle of prosperity and prosperity in the district.”
The process for small businesses to join the program is simple – DC-based businesses qualify by submitting financial documentation and describing how the funds invested will be used. Then the staff at SMBX quickly come back with a raise amount, an interest rate, and a term. SMBX submits the regulatory filings and the SMBX marketing team begins working with the small business to launch the raise campaign and help market to the public.
By working together, the DC community can support and rebuild small businesses in DC, one investment at a time.
Small DC businesses interested in raising funds can learn more from SMBX here. Those interested in investing in small businesses and earning up to 9% interest* can sign up here.
*Investing in Reg CF securities involves financial risk, including losing money invested. All estimated returns on capital + interest are not guaranteed. This statement is based on the following assumptions: 1) an offering will be successful and an investor will be allotted one or more bonds, 2) that the investor will hold its bonds to maturity, and 3) that the issuer will not default on the bond payments from the issuance until the due date.