The Women LLC of Knoxville will offer microloans to Black business owners


Kanika White read a statistic in passing a few years ago that jarred her. She wanted to understand what was causing a 42% poverty rate among Black Knoxville residents. 

“Like with anything that is that huge and complex…the initial thought is (the issue is) too big for me,” White said. “I can’t do anything about it.” 

White wanted to do more. Today, she’s a board member for Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC), and executive director of Knoxville Equity Partners, an organization that aims to facilitate economic development initiatives in East Knoxville and Mechanicsville. 

But real estate agent wasn’t alone in trying to figure out how she could help address the issue. 

She, along with a several other women, began gathering informally in 2019 to talk about the challenges the Black community in Knoxville faces. At first, the group, comprised of Black women entrepreneurs, business owners, activists and civic leaders, was just talking: discussing the high poverty rate, high under employment rate, high unemployment rate, lack of small business support and lack of housing that’s affordable in the Black community. 

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