August is National Black-owned Business Month; a great time to recognize and celebrate the approximately two million companies in the U.S. owned by African American and Black entrepreneurs.[1] As one of the few Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) in the country led by an African-American woman President and CEO, FSC first understands the particular financial and economic challenges Black businesses face. FSC First is fully committed to being a big part of the solution to those challenges.

Since 1978, FSC First has been serving small businesses in the community and helping existing and aspiring Black business owners achieve the capital, skills, and connections for long-term growth. Our services include portfolio management, loan servicing expertise, financial education, and a diverse range of financing programs and revolving loan funds. FSC First provides small and minority businesses access to financing through 12 distinct loan products and has generated over $100 million in direct loans to those businesses and spurred more than 400 jobs in our local community.

We are proud of the Black-owned businesses that have become a part of the many success stories here at FSC First, and we are honored to have the opportunity to support them on their road to growth and achievement. Read below as we share a few of their stories.


Sankofa Health Center

Sankofa Health Center is a full-service primary care health center providing integrative and culturally responsive health services. Located in Laurel, MD, this Black-owned business is the only full-service health center in the City of Laurel and surrounding areas. In addition to traditional Western medicine, Sankofa Health Center offers doula services, holistic nutrition, yoga classes, wellness services, and workplace wellness.

FSC First provided funding for Sankofa Health LLC to expand its urgent care and wellness center. Funding was provided for the purchase of ultrasound and EKG machines, as well as the hiring of two part-time nurse practitioners and a part-time Medical Assistant. With this financial assistance, Sankofa Health Center has been able to serve its community more fully.


BlueHenry LLC

BlueHenry LLC is a Black-owned, woman-owned business located in Capital Heights, MD. Prioritizing local, American-made, and small business resources for ingredient sourcing, BlueHenry LLC produces upscale dehydrated fruit, simple syrups, and rimming salts and sugars for embellishing craft cocktails. Their inventory is sold directly to restaurants and consumers through their website and Amazon.

Blue Henry LLC received funding from FSC First to finance the purchase of equipment and machinery, leasehold improvements, and provide working capital. This funding was critical in helping BlueHenry LLC improve its operations, satisfy demand, and increase sales for further success.


Cynthia Cephas Photography

Inspired by her father’s love of photography, Cynthia Cephas began taking photos as a child. Today she is a professional certified digital photographer, running her Black-owned, woman-owned business: Cynthia Cephas Photography. She specializes in corporate events, executive headshots, real estate listing photography, food photography, and offers on-the-spot photo printing.

Cynthia first learned about FSC First through an event at the Maryland Black Chamber of Commerce about resources available to support local businesses. FSC First’s COVID-19 Relief Initiative Grant was just what Cynthia needed to help her business fill in the gaps of lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once her business was back on track, she explored the small business technical assistance offered by FSC First’s Level Up program. She enrolled in the Level Up Financial Management Training Series (FMTS) to learn about navigating accounting challenges for her photography business. She says the assistance from FSC First has helped her better understand business accounting and how to achieve improved business outcomes.


FSC First is proud to uplift diverse voices and local businesses through our work. If your business is interested in our services, please contact our team.




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