Building community wealth across the Mississippi Delta
How Tim Lampkin is supporting and expanding Black business ownership in the U.S.
Social entrepreneur Tim Lampkin founded Higher Purpose Co. (HPC) five years ago to build community wealth and resource a network of Black entrepreneurs, artists, and farmers across the Mississippi Delta in the U.S. Working now with 200 entrepreneurs and business owners — many of them Black women — Tim and his team are creating a vibrant changemaker culture with deep roots in the region and a future economy that works for everyone.
Ashoka’s Marc Carr spoke with Tim last week at Welcome Change, Ashoka’s weekly news series with the world’s social entrepreneurs. Watch the full conversation. Here are a few highlights:
Creating a continuum of capital
To support entrepreneurs, HPC leverages business growth grants, individual development accounts, community development financial institutions (CDFI), traditional banks, equity investments, and loan guarantees. As the only Kiva hub in Mississippi, they can also leverage 0% interest loans that don’t require collateral.
There are healthier ways to finance a business than borrowing against your home or maxing out your credit cards. Tim looks at less invasive forms of collateral and cost saving measures to achieve the same goal: what about equipment, buildings, getting rid of closing costs, leveraging loan guarantees to buy down interest rates? And for you banks out there: HPC is a risk mitigator: the community guarantees 60–75% of the total loan value.
Focus on business ownership
Entrepreneurship may be trendy, but let’s keep a long-term vision and prioritize business ownership and asset building, Tim says. That’s the way to close the racial wealth gap.
The power of narrative
Tim wants to change “how people think about Mississippi — and in particular, how people think about Black people in Missisippi.” Hear Tim out on why lifting up assets, aspirations, and contributions is essential.
How financial institutions can plug in
From local banks to global giants, mainstream financial institutions are pledging billions to address racial inequity. Great, says Tim, and here’s a reminder: “Just because [a bank] has a branch in a community does not mean that [it] has a community connection.” Tim invites banks to find partners like HPC with deep roots in the communities they serve.
An ecosystem of support
While HPC invests in single businesses, its goal is building a strong ecosystem of business owners — where members can tap each other for questions and mentorship, look for business partners within the network, and collectively advocate for change.
Looking to 2030
What will be different in 10 years? Tim shares his long-range vision for change in the Mississippi Delta and beyond.
You can watch the full conversation here (about 35 min, with Q&A). And you can follow Tim and HPC at the links below.
Higher Purpose Co.: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook
This conversation is part of Welcome Change, a “news hour” series of Ashoka that taps the world’s social entrepreneurs as experts on timely topics. You can browse upcoming and past conversations in the series here.