Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen in Boston, run by Darryl Settles, is so much more than a restaurant. In addition to serving up comfort staples like chicken and waffles, Darryl’s recently served as a networking hub for small businesses invited by Eastern Bank to celebrate small business month. Bringing together business owners, community leaders, and Eastern Bank small business champions, the restaurant celebrated the achievement and perseverance of small businesses in the Greater Boston area.
Held on the same day as Eastern Bank’s new Roxbury branch grand opening—the first new bank branch to open in this vibrant community in more than 20 years—the networking event invited small business owners and community leaders to come together, exchange business ideas, and build lasting relationships.
“We started this five years ago as a celebration of small business week but we decided to call it small business month,” said Bob Rivers, Eastern Bank’s CEO. The event has become a place to highlight the impact that small businesses can have on their communities.
“One of the most powerful forces is the weight of accountability. You say something and people are going to hold you accountable,” said Rivers. And there is no question that Eastern Bank is committed and accountable to small businesses, earning the distinction as the top Small Business Administration (SBA) lender in New England for nine consecutive years. When a small business succeeds by employing and investing in communities, local families and communities win, too.
In addition, Eastern Bank’s Business Equity Initiative seeks to provide loans to build the capacity of businesses owned by people of color. In an interview with the Bay State Banner last year, Glynn Lloyd, executive director of the Business Equity Initiative said that Eastern Bank “decided we would focus on blacks and Latinos coming out the gate because that’s where the gap is the greatest.” The 2015 Federal Reserve Bank of Boston “Color of Wealth” report found that while white households have a median wealth of $247,500, African Americans and Dominicans’ median wealth is close to zero. Making growth even more challenging, minority-owned businesses receive less than 2 percent of all venture capital in the United States.
Herby Duverné, CEO of Windwalker Group, spoke of his unique path as an immigrant business owner and person of color at the event. “My journey started 29 years ago, coming from Haiti without a word of English,” said Duverné. “Now I have 184 employees and I’m running a multi-million dollar business.”
The host of the evening’s festivities, Darryl Settles, echoed the need to bring together small business owners together so they can be inspired by each other’s milestones. He went on to speak about his role in bringing the Business Equity Initiative to life, along with Bob Rivers and Eastern Bank. “When you want a major change, you do it with the person who stands up with the most to lose,” said Settles about Rivers.
“Companies come up with initiatives all the time, but you have to have someone to execute them with a wide network,” said Settles. More than a restauranteur, Settles is also the founder of Catalyst Ventures Development, which seeks to address the need for housing in urban communities. In partnership with local nonprofit owners and public and private stakeholders, Settles has developed many residential projects over the last 25 plus years. Despite his tremendous success, Settles says that there are obstacles to running a small business, but that there are people committed to building success stories, and in turn, building communities.
“Eastern Bank has a door where you don’t have to knock in a special place to get in,” said Settles. “At Eastern Bank, the door is open. I’m happy where we are, the days ahead of us are brighter. We can make Boston a city for all at some point—the doors are opening. The things that I’ve seen give me hope.”
With dozens of community members and Eastern Bank small business staff still inside Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen Boston, Settles embodies what Eastern Bank’s small business focus looks to achieve. “Small business is the bedrock of America. It builds wealth and power. It builds communities.”
Learn more about how Eastern Bank’s Business Equity Initiative is making an impact within different communities of color.