The Business Equity Fund at the Boston Foundation

Investing in Enterprises of Color

TBF News Winter 2019

Anthony Samuels
Anthony Samuels

Anthony Samuels, President of DRB Facility Services, was intrigued when he first heard about the Business Equity Initiative (BEI), a program of the Foundation for Business Equity. It was developed to help accelerate the growth of enterprises of color and increase job opportunities and wealth creation in Boston’s neighborhoods. Founded in 1993, DRB provides janitorial, landscaping and snow removal services to some of the largest companies in the Northeast.

When Samuels was approached by the Foundation for Business Equity’s Executive Director, Glynn Lloyd, a local pioneer in the field of urban economic development—and someone Samuels knows and respects—the decision to involve DRB as one of the initial businesses in the BEI program made perfect sense.

Through BEI, DRB was introduced to a strategic business advisor, Brian Post, who worked with Samuels and the existing management team. Post recommended building an operating platform to enable future growth and expansion. Based on his recommendation, Samuels made the decision to add a seasoned Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer, Kenneth Martin, to DRB in May of 2018.

$ 2 mil

Seed funding from the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation

Now DRB is one of the first recipients of the Boston Foundation’s Business Equity Fund, which provides access to capital for businesses owned by people of color. The Fund is part of an ecosystem to grow enterprises of color that includes the Foundation for Business Equity’s BEI program, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s Pacesetters Initiative, which encourages its members to work with minority-owned businesses, and the Business Equity Fund at the Boston Foundation. The Fund provides both flexible financing and patient capital that produces a modest return so that, ultimately, it can be self-perpetuating. With $2 million in seed funding from the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, the goal is to grow the Business Equity Fund going forward.

DRB received a $400,000 investment from the Business Equity Fund to help facilitate the addition of a $22 million, three-year customer contract for DRB, increasing its annual revenue from $13 million in 2018 to $21 million in 2019, and adding more than 180 new employees to the existing 450, most of whom are people of color.

Orlando Watkins, the Boston Foundation’s Vice President for Programs, is excited about the Fund’s potential. “It has the dual impact of building wealth for entrepreneurs and increasing employment opportunities for communities of color,” he says. “Both will contribute to narrowing the wealth gap that we hear so much about in Boston.”