Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
WHAT IS OPEN4?
Open4 is a partnership of community-based organizations and funders who work together to connect entrepreneurs and small businesses with the resources, support and guidance they need to thrive.
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 has only been 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 takes a strategic approach to strengthening the small business community and promoting resiliency and inclusive economic growth. Open4 assesses and addresses the needs of the small business support network based on the evolving circumstances posed by these uncertain economic times.
Open4 invests in, supports, and enhances organizations that bring resources and expertise to entrepreneurs and small businesses that need it most. At the outset, Open4 will help expand the reach and impact of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that are trusted partners in the neighborhoods they serve. With the right investments and support, these CDFIs will expand their reach and impact.
Open4 provides 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 helps increase small businesses’ access to funding and resources
DOES OPEN4 PROVIDE LOANS OR GRANTS TO SMALL BUSINESSES?
Open4 does not provide direct support to small businesses. However,it makes grants to and helps build the capacity of organizations, like CDFIs, and other small business support organizations, that in turn help entrepreneurs and small businesses with startup and growth.
WHERE DOES OPEN4 OPERATE?
Open4 supports the small business ecosystem in the WNY and Rochester regions. This geographic focus includes Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming Counties.
WHO IS LEADING AND FUNDING OPEN4?
Open4 is supported by a group of funders that currently includes: 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 have initially committed over $6 million. Open4 continues to seek additional contributions from entities located in the WNY and Rochester regions.
Open4 is managed day-to-day by a program management team led by the University at Buffalo Regional Institute (UBRI).