MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Meda, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit organization, has worked for decades to help BIPOC companies.

CEO Alfredo Martel says he was born at a similar time 50 years ago after the Plymouth Avenue civil unrest in 1967. Martel says it’s more important than ever to work to close the racial wealth gap .

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Jennifer Mayerle of WCCO learned how entrepreneurs thrive with a helping hand.

Small learners at The beginnings of Olu are part of founder Gloria Freeman’s dream to build a lasting legacy.

“We are focused on healthy wellness,” Freeman said.

The road to launch the early childhood program took courage, determination and not to take the no to a loan from your bank.

“There were some frustrating times,” Freeman said. “It was hurtful. I took it personally.

This is where Meda came into the picture. The non-profit organization dedicated to helping BIPOC entrepreneurs with advice, capital and opportunities has helped close the gap.

“Helped me with my performances, my relationships, my money, a number of things,” Freeman said.

“There is a huge problem,” Martel said. “A lot of our customers have gone through traditional services and the system and they could be considered unbankable. In our opinion, in our mission, we invest in these same customers.

Martel explains that there is a ripple effect when an entrepreneur from BIPOC does so.

“The success of a business is an immediate increase in the wealth of a household. BIPOC entrepreneurs hire BIPOC employees, they pay a living wage and they are all connected by the community, ”said Martel.

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Freeman says it was about building an intergenerational business. His daughter takes care of the daily operations. She credits Meda’s help in being in business today.

“I know that with Meda’s support I was able to achieve my goal,” Freeman said.

Meda’s help enabled Conrad Nguyen to acquire Kortech, a small business that connects people and businesses.

“It’s a big deal, personally,” Nguyen said.

He came to the United States after living in a refugee camp, his family having fled Vietnam. The at-risk dropout moved to Minnesota where he graduated, graduated from college and earned an MBA.

“It’s always been that outsider mentality,” Nguyen said.

He had a loan but needed working capital to close the deal. Meda provided it so that he could pay employees while creating clients.

“I felt like I had a team supporting me, going through it,” Nguyen said.

This allowed him to build for the future.

“It’s not just about us. It’s about creating something positive for the next generation. I have tears in my eyes talking about my child, but for me it’s the American dream, ”said Nguyen.

Meda has been helping Freeman again recently. She bought a building that spans one block on Hennepin on the 23rd. There are currently residential and commercial space rented out, and she intends to open a beauty business in an open space.

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