This company wants to help Black entrepreneurs buy a vehicle

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Lance McGowan left his transportation logistics job at Pepsi seven years ago because he wanted more control over his time and income. McGowan now makes a living renting his cars to people in Columbus, Ohio.

Money that McGowan earns, using the car-sharing app Turo, keeps his bills paid, but the 34-year-old entrepreneur said he dreams of growing his fleet even larger. The goal is to have 10 cars and hire an assistant to help clean the cars before they’re delivered to customers, McGowan said. 

“I’d love to be in a position one day where I can just look at a car and say, ‘That’d be great on Turo,’ and, boom, I can buy it, cash, and not have to worry about if I’m going to be able to make the payments,” he said. 

Lance McGowan, a Black and Korean entrepreneur in Ohio, is looking to grow his car-lending business. He has applied for a new program from Turo to help his dreams take shape.  Lance McGowan

McGowan currently owns four cars but Turo may help him get a fifth. The company this week announced a new program, in partnership with microlender Kiva.org, where it will match every dollar — up to $7,500 — that participants earn through Kiva by starting a business sharing cars on Turo. Turo plans to lend $1 million in total for its “seed initative” with the aim of helping historically disenfranchised entrepreneurs access wealth-building opportunities.

Turo began accepting new applications for the program Tuesday. Anyone can apply to the program but initial funds are prioritized for applicants from underserved minority communities, according to the Turo website. Applicants are strongly encouraged but not obligated to list the car they buy on Turo, according to a company spokesperson.

Turo CEO Andre Haddad said having a company car helps minority business owners become more profitable and ultimately that success can chip away at the nation’s wealth gap between entrepreneurs of color and their White counterparts. Turo has “a responsibility to break down systemic racism and foster more economic growth opportunities for disenfranchised communities,” he said in a statement

Turo is a California startup that allows car owners to post their vehicle on its website so someone can rent it — roughly the same way Airbnb functions for homeowners. Turo’s investors include professional athletes and entertainers, all of whom have poured more than $460 million into the company, according to Crunchbase. Turo has more than 14 million users on its platform and more than 400,00 vehicles listed, the company said.

The company employs 256 people spread across San Francisco, Phoenix, London and Toronto. 

McGowan was one of the first entrepreneurs accepted into Turo’s program. He wants a Toyota Prius C but has never used Kiva for a loan. McGowan said he hopes his Kiva campaign works out because the short-term plan is to buy the Prius, pay off the auto loan in 16 months, then start working on getting a sixth car.

“I would like to grow, one car at a time,” he said. “My goal is to be the best on Turo, not the biggest.”

The high cost of systemic racism 02:58

The U.S. needs more success from Black entrepreneurs like McGowan, economists say. A Citigroup study found that the nation has missed out on $13 trillion in business revenue since 2000 because Black entrepreneurs couldn’t access bank loans. The nation’s economy would be $16 trillion richer if those Black entrepreneurs were better supported, the study found.

“The true health of this nation rests and depends on the strength of those entrepreneurs,” Cheikh Mboup, the president of Edible Arrangements who also coaches minority business owners, told CBS MoneyWatch.

A separate study from McKinsey found that the nation’s gross domestic product could rise between 4% and 6% in 2028 if racial inequities in business, and other arenas, receded and vanished.  

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