Jeff Brown, who has 12 markets in the region, has a novel arrangement with entrepreneurs, primarily people of color. He gives them space in the stores to sell their wares.
Brown, said he and other fund founders took the vetting process personally. They phoned applicants themselves. “We’d ask them how things were going,” Brown said. “People were in tears. You know, it’s their life savings, and the stories were very similar. Their businesses were shutting down. They had nothing coming in.”