Nonprofit aims to close resource gap for Black entrepreneurs in Mississippi
Black-owned businesses are a minority in the Mississippi Delta, even with a population in some areas that's more than 70% African American. Tim Lampkin wanted to close that gap and help business owners.
"The majority of the businesses I was seeing were White-owned and the math just didn't add up to me," Lampkin, the cofounder and CEO of nonprofit Higher Purpose, told CBS News. "So I figured there was a resource gap."
Lampkin saw the region increasingly distressed and the wealth gap growing when he quit a big city job to return to his Delta home. The state has the nation's highest poverty rate of almost 20%, but in parts of the Delta the rate is 30% to 43%.
"The first thing I thought was, 'How am I going to be a part of the solution?' I never think about things from a deficit mindset. It's always optimistic," he said.
Lampkin started Higher Purpose to provide mentors and connect lenders to Black entrepreneurs like Kenesha Lewis, who had trouble getting a loan.
She used to sell smoothies from her apartment, but now owns Kay's Kute Fruit in Greenville, Mississippi.
Nurse practitioner Mary Williams saw a need for an emergency care center in Clarksdale since the closest was 45 minutes away. But she said banks turned her down even though she had seed money.
"My proposal may be the exact same as my White counterparts' proposal, but yet it doesn't carry the same weight to the lender," Williams told CBS News.
Higher Purpose introduced her to a lender who provided her with a loan. The clinic has become a lifeline beyond healthcare.
"It's really important that people see themselves in their community and so this is much bigger than myself or Dr. Williams, it's more about creating a new legacy and generation," Lampkin said.
Lewis is now mentoring young Black women.
"I mentor young ladies and to know that they watch me ... that makes my heart healthy because I'm walking my purpose," she said.
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