Woman discussing Business Equity Initiative

Introducing the Business Equity Initiative (BEI):  

Business Equity Initiative logo

BEI is currently seeking Black and Latino business owners who are positioned for and desire extraordinary growth.  In Massachusetts, where wealth and income inequality are increasing, the BEI was developed to help accelerate the growth of local enterprises of color and to directly impact the increase of job opportunities and wealth creation in our neighborhoods.  We are focused on Black and Latino businesses because that is where the wealth disparity is greatest, and BEI is set to make the biggest impact possible.

BEI takes a holistic and customized approach in partnering with each enterprise. 


Click here to learn about Cohort III Participating Enterprises.

Click here to learn about Cohort II Participating Enterprises.

Click here to learn about the Inaugural Participating Enterprises.


See how BEI addresses wealth disparities in our communities:

The BEI Mission

Launched by the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation in April 2017, the Business Equity Initiative (BEI) was developed to mitigate growing inequality by combining business growth, supplier partnerships, and community transformative development as a means of addressing growing wealth and income inequality in Massachusetts.

The Initiative is focused on growing enterprises of color by leveraging Eastern’s networks and philanthropic dollars as well as providing targeted, customizable growth tools including embedded trusted strategic advisors, operational support, growth capital, and market access to enterprises of color positioned for growth.  This Initiative will begin with Black and Latino businesses, because research shows us that this is where the inequities and wealth gap is the greatest.

The envisioned impact of the BEI includes stronger balance sheets, expanded and deeper supplier relationships between these enterprises and anchor institutions, job creation for residents of color, and the potential for greater civic engagement by the owners of color and their workforce.

Working alongside you to build capacity:

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Strategic Advisors: 

We have recruited strategic advisors, with direct experience in growing small businesses, to become your trusted partners.  They will work alongside you and your team, to create a customized, practical plan for sustainable growth. 


Strategic Advisors and Our Approach to Building Capacity

The BEI will match top tier talent (former CEOs, successful former business owners, management consultants, strategists) and expertise to our entrepreneurs and enterprises of color to help them grow.  Our process begins with embedding these trusted strategic advisors within the  leadership team.  The Strategic Advisors will perform a full organizational diagnostic and co-create effective growth strategies, and then partner directly with the founding team  to help execute/operationalize the strategy.  (80% subsidized by BEI).  We estimate the market value of having up to 420 hours of strategic coaching advice, and execution assistance to be worth  $125K.  We will be asking the enterprise of color to contribute up to 10-15% of that value.


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Direct Services Support: 

We understand that your company may have specific and costly operational needs that need extra attention and we are offering direct financial support to subsidize the cost of quality professional services.



Direct Service Providers and Their Expertise

It is anticipated that Initiative participants will have gaps in infrastructure or operational capability that can be bridged with the help of a specialist.  Examples include: financial data collection, reporting and analysis, resilient legal structure, branding, leadership development, market research as well as process and flow improvements. The Strategic Advisor along with the leadership team will identify these gaps and the enterprise of color will directly contract with the direct service specialist. The enterprise of color will directly contract with the service provider. Depending on the enterprise need, we estimate subsidizing each company 20% of the direct service support or on average $30K. We will expect the enterprise to pay the other 80% for the services they receive.

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Growth Capital:

By participating in the BEI,  you will have preferred access to the Business Equity Fund.


Growth Capital Opportunities

Eastern Bank has committed $10MM over the next three years to support the growth of enterprises of color in the Business Equity Initiative (BEI).  BEI is committing a substantial part of this resource into a growth capital vehicle that will provide flexible capital to enterprises of color positioned for growth and expansion.  For most small businesses, especially owners of color, access to appropriate growth capital and strategic resources and partnerships is a challenge.

The Business Equity Fund will be part of a holistic and comprehensive approach to support the growth of the enterprises of color accepted into the BEI cohort.  The Business Equity Fund will provide integrated capital ranging from debt to equity, all provided as potential investment tools toward growth.

Working beside you to expand your Market Access:

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Pacesetter Procurement:

The Business Equity Initiative is working with the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce to form a partnership of Pacesetter companies that are committed to increasing their supplier diversity, in numbers of vendors and dollars.  This program is intended to provide access to middle market and Fortune 1000 companies, as well as anchor institutions in our local markets.  By participating in the program, Pacesetters are committing to increasing their supplier diversity spend in number of contracts and dollars.  Participants in the BEI will have priority in accessing market opportunities driven through the Pacesetters.  

Eastern Bank’s Commitment and The Pacesetter

The Business Equity Initiative is partnering with the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce to significantly expand corporate procurement opportunities for enterprises of color.  Eastern Bank will be one of the inaugural members of the Pacesetter group and has already committed to doubling its spend by the end of 2018. The initial objective is to increase the opportunities available for bidding by the BEI participants and for opportunities that fit within the strategic growth plans of the BEI participants.  There is no additional cost to access the Pacesetter group.

The focus of the Pacesetter program is to expand business opportunities for enterprises of color, with priority for participants of the BEI, chiefly through:

  • Gaining commitment from mid-sized and large corporations and anchor institutions to measure, report, and increase their spending with locally owned enterprises of color
  • Encouraging transparency of contracting and purchasing opportunities
  • Creating opportunities for relationship building procurement officers and decision makers of Pacesetters for new or expansion of business opportunities  
  • Promoting the positive impact to the region in expanding opportunities to businesses of color

By participating in the BEI, enterprises of color will significantly increase their market exposure and bidding opportunities with companies and institutions that are committed to supporting their growth while diversifying their own supply chains.

Apply Here

Eligibility Requirements and Application

The initial focus of the Initiative will be on local Black and Latino-owned firms.  BEI will work with those businesses that are/have:

  • MBE certified or certifiable
  • Able to make the necessary financial and time commitment
  • Sustained revenues of at least $800,000/year
  • Demonstrate a proven business model
  • Strong leadership willing and ready to substantially grow
  • Located in Eastern MA or Southern NH

How to Apply
Applications are being accepted now.  The application process will help us understand you, your business, critical needs and fit with BEI’s goals.

Upon submission of the application, you will receive an email confirming receipt. Your application will be reviewed and evaluated by the BEI selection committee. If you are selected for an interview you will be contacted and additional information may be requested.  Whenever possible, an on site visit will also be conducted.

Every applicant will be notified of their status, whether or not they advance to the interview round.

Information collected at all stages of the application, evaluation, and interview process is strictly confidential and will be used only to confirm program eligibility and participation.

Twice annually, a select number of companies will be admitted into the BEI.  Download the application here: BEI Application   and submit to bei@easternbank.com

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Key Dates

  • Winter Mixer, February 2019
  • Next Application Deadline, April 12, 2019
  • Cohort 4 Welcome Reception, June 2019