Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
WHAT WAS OPEN4?
Open4 was a partnership of community-based organizations and funders who worked together to connect entrepreneurs and small businesses with resources, support and guidance.
WHY WAS IT CREATED?
Open4 was created to help small businesses overcome the challenge of accessing the right capital and support necessary to grow – a challenge that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Open4 Fund was created at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo by a group of foundations and corporations to help entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Western New York and Rochester regions, with a specific focus on businesses owned by women and people of color in underserved, low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.
WHAT DOES IT DO?
Open4 took a strategic approach to strengthening the small business community and promoting resiliency and inclusive economic growth. Open4 worked to assess and address the needs of the small business support network based on the evolving circumstances posed by uncertain economic times.
Open4 invested in, supported, and enhanced organizations that bring resources and expertise to entrepreneurs and small businesses that need it most. At the outset, Open4 helped expand the reach and impact of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that are trusted partners in the neighborhoods they serve.
Open4 provided these CDFI partners with:
• Direct funding so they can offer additional business and financial support programs and services
• Technical assistance and support to build their internal capacity and ability to assist more small businesses
• Marketing and promotion to build awareness of the CDFIs’ offerings within the business communities they serve – this helped increase small businesses’ access to funding and resources
DOES OPEN4 PROVIDE LOANS OR GRANTS TO SMALL BUSINESSES?
Open4 did not provide direct support to small businesses. It made grants to help build the capacity of organizations, like CDFIs, and other small business support organizations, so they could, in turn, help entrepreneurs and small businesses with startup and growth.
WHERE DID OPEN4 OPERATE?
Open4 supported the small business ecosystem in the WNY and Rochester regions. This geographic focus included Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming Counties.
WHO IS LEADING AND FUNDING OPEN4?
Open4 was supported by a group of funders that included: the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, The John R. Oishei Foundation, M&T Bank, KeyBank, the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation, ESL and Pegula Sports + Entertainment. Together, these founding partners committed over $6 million.
Open4 was managed day-to-day by a program management team led by the University at Buffalo Regional Institute (UBRI).