When the Covid pandemic struck, Jose Reyes and his daughter Ana Reyes, owners of one of DC’s most treasured restaurants for 40 years, El Tamarindo, needed to raise money to quickly build an outdoor seating area to adhere to new social distancing guidelines and expand their kitchen.
The pandemic took a severe toll on the District’s small businesses. In early 2020, over 1,000 small businesses closed; 2,300 through March 2022 impacting the owners, employees, and communities who relied on them. But as in communities throughout the country, DC residents pulled together to support their favorite local businesses through take-out orders, retail merchandise pick-ups, and even Go Fund Me campaigns to help them survive.
Seeing how dedicated the DC community was to supporting small businesses, the Reyes family chose a unique program that gave DC residents the opportunity to invest directly in El Tamarindo–the DC Rebuild Bond Program. Through the program, they raised nearly $102,000 from investors through SMBX–the financial marketplace that connects qualified small business owners with everyday investors.
“Our partnership [with SMBX and the City] allowed us to see how important neighborhood staples are to communities. Through these investments, we saw how connected our customers were to El Tamarindo, but also that the larger community felt the same way,” said El Tamarindo owner Ana Reyes.
The DC Rebuild Bond Program is a partnership between SMBX and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Deputy Mayor’s Office of Planning and Economic Development (DMPED). Its goal is to drive $5 million in investment into the District’s small businesses. The program places special emphasis on Wards 5, 7, and 8–areas that have historically experienced economic discrimination and been denied access to capital.
By participating in the DC Rebuild Bond Program, Washington, DC-area residents have a new way to support small businesses in the District while gaining more control over their money, earning passive income, and rebuilding their local communities.
Through the DC Rebuild Bond program, businesses can issue an innovative loan product, the Small Business Bond™, with no origination fees. Investors can invest for as little as $10 and receive monthly payments of principal and interest, all while supporting their favorite local businesses. They’re given more control over their investment dollars so they can decide the types of investments they want to make, including the option to keep wealth creation in their local community.
Since it was launched in September 2021, 12 businesses have raised over $1.1 million, including local favorites Lucky Buns, Sticky Fingers Sweets and Eats, Maketto, and Trini Vibez, with more small businesses joining the program and investors buying their Small Business Bonds daily. Local restaurants Arepa Zone and Zeleno, as well as art and events venue Tool Box, are currently seeking investments from the DC community.
DC Go-Go music legend Charles “Shorty Corleone” Garris, Founder and CEO of Innovative Recordings, LLC in Anacostia, recently used the SMBX marketplace to raise additional funding to promote his TV show “Capital Kidds,” a teen variety show that has recorded over 80 songs and delivers compelling educational content. The funds will also be used to manufacture “Crank Chips,” an innovative, one-of-a-kind DC snack with a unique QR code to spark conversation about community and culture.
“We were thrilled with the community’s response,” said Garris. “Large and small investors believe in our company and its mission and support our expansion. Raising funds for our business this way has been so encouraging.”
“This is why we partnered with SMBX to harness the support of DC residents of small businesses throughout the pandemic to benefit the District’s entrepreneurs over the long term,” said John Falcicchio, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. “It is so important for small businesses to have access to funding, specifically entrepreneurs of color, and SMBX provides a viable option to convert customers to investors.”
SMBX CEO and co-founder Ben Lozano praised Mayor Muriel Bowser, Deputy Mayor John Falchicchio, and the DC Rebuild Bond program. “We’re partnering to help DC entrepreneurs and investors advance their goals and aspirations in a community-minded, community-led fashion,” said Lozano. “By turning neighborhood fans into active investors in their favorite businesses, we’re creating a financial system that benefits everyone in the community and helps keep the cycle of wealth and prosperity in the District.”
The process for small businesses to participate in the program is simple–DC-based businesses qualify by submitting financial paperwork and describing how the invested funds will be used. Then, SMBX staff quickly comes back with a raise amount, interest rate, and term. SMBX files the regulatory paperwork and the SMBX Marketing team begins working with the small business to launch and help market the raise campaign to the public.
By working together, the DC community can support and rebuild DC small businesses one investment at a time.
*Investing in Reg CF securities includes financial risks, including loss of money invested. All estimated returns on principal + interest are not guaranteed. This statement is based on the following assumptions: 1) an offering successfully closes and an investor is allocated a Bond or Bonds, 2) that the investor holds their Bonds to maturity and 3) that there are no defaults made by the issuer on any of the Bond payments from issuance to maturity.