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This P2P car sharing company has a plan to increase black entrepreneurship



Stock Photo of a dark-skinned hand holding out a set of car keys.

Although it had to share headlines with a deadly pandemic and a hotly contested presidential campaign, the United States’ ongoing fight against racism was also a big story in 2020. And that includes the transfer of peer-to-peer car-sharing company Turo. “To be honest with you, we̵

7;ve had some really amazing vocal and charismatic black leaders in Turo who shared with us some really insightful data on the lack of access to capital, the average black American, and how that society, in general, “is really a disadvantage when it comes to access to capital compared to other communities in the United States,” explained Turo chief Andre Haddad.

Therefore, Turo created a pilot program called Seed Initiative. The company has teamed up with microloan provider Kiva to provide interest-free loans of up to $ 15,000 to finance black entrepreneurs in 14 US cities so they can use the platform to start car rental companies. Successful applicants can crowdfund up to $ 7,500 on Kiva, which Turo will match dollar for dollar.

“I have always been thrilled by the impact our platform has on everyone who hosts it [the term for someone who loans out vehicles on Turo]”The fact that they can start turning the car around from just being a depreciating cost center to an asset that generates cash and helps pay for itself,” Haddad said. But to be able to participate and create the economic value, you must first have a car. And unfortunately, there are many people who just can not afford to buy a car and therefore do not even get access to the marketplace, “he told me recently by phone.

Vernon Byers from Atlanta is a serial entrepreneur who has applied for the Seed Initiative. “I decided to join Turo because it provides good service and opportunity for the community and entrepreneurs,” Byers told me via email. “The Seed Initiative is an exciting process when you get to share your vision with a successful and supportive collective that is happy to see you succeed,” he wrote.

“How can I take my business to the next level?”

Miami-based founder Dennis Brown is one of the first to receive funding through the Seed Initiative. “It was perfect timing, because at the time I was strategizing, ‘OK, how can I get more cars – how can I take the business to the next level?'” Brown told me. He has rented his Chevrolet Camaro on Turo, bringing in between $ 750 and $ 1,000 a month in the process. But now he plans to add something a little more accessible to his fleet “for the crew who want to explore Miami – there are three or four of them, but they want to get a car that everyone can fit in,” Brown said.

As part of the approval process, Turo’s staff assists applicants in deciding on a suitable vehicle. “I talked to the person from Turo, who sent me a list of the best cars,” said Santo Alima, who works for Capital One in Florida. “That’s one of the reasons I chose it. Besides, Nissan has an agreement where they offer an extended warranty,” Alima told me.

Nissan is partnering with Turo to offer three years of free maintenance for Seed Initiative hosts; Although applicants are not limited to the Japanese brand, Byers also plans, like Alima, to buy a Nissan.

“We are much more involved with these particular contractors because we want to make sure they benefit from all the data and infrastructure we built,” Haddad told me. “We want to make sure that these newly developed entrepreneurs are really successful. We want to make sure that this experience is really very positive for them,” said Haddad.

For now, Turo is investing $ 1 million in the Seed Initiative – enough to fund more than 130 new hosts. “For us, we’re still a small company, and that’s a lot of money,” Haddad told me. “But we hope that when we get bigger and as the initiative shows good traction, that there is a lot of appetite for these loans and also good repayment rates. If the two calculations show good results, I definitely think I will be very motivated to expand. the pilot into a much larger program, maybe even an ongoing program, “Haddad said.


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