By Laury Hammel, AMIBA Board of Directors

Two AMIBA members, Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts (SBN) and Cambridge Local First (CLF) in 2022, co-sponsored the development of the Cambridge-Somerville Black Business Network (CSBBN) to create a vibrant ecosystem in Cambridge for Black-owned businesses. The CSBBN has grown to include 55 members who have joined to support one another and identify ways to offer financing, technical assistance, and mutually beneficial marketing opportunities. Most of these Black-Owned businesses are owned and managed by women entrepreneurs.

In the summer of 2022, Cambridge Savings Bank, one of Massachusett’s most respected locally owned banks, stepped up and approved a grant of $100,000 for the growth and development of Black-owned businesses in the Cambridge area through grants and technical assistance programs. The CSBBN received 32 applications from local Black-owned entrepreneurs who applied for grants between $1,000 and $10,000. As of February 14, eight businesses have received grants, and another five have received technical assistance to aid in their expansion. All eight businesses have been assigned a mentor from the bank who will continue to support the businesses as they grow. The positive impact has been dramatic on each of these businesses, and CSBBN anticipates completing the delivery of the grants by the end of February.

This entrepreneurial support will continue beyond the approval of the grants. In addition, based on the program’s results, Cambridge Savings Bank will consider offering another round of grants beginning in the fall of 2024. This program fits in nicely with the mission and vision of this vibrant, locally owned bank.

SBN and CLF believe this is a good model for other local banks and communities as our movement works to address the inequities inherent in starting a business when you are a Black entrepreneur. For more information, please contact Nicola Williams at

Black-Owned Pop-Up in Harvard Square focusing on Valentine’s Day sales.

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