TRUIMPACT STORY: “TruFund was critical to our business during the COVID-19 period.”

TruFund is proud to support Francilia Rahim Wilkins, founder and CEO of R.F. Wilkins Consultants, a business development and management consulting firm. Since Francilia founded the company 11 years ago at the young age of 23, R.F. Wilkins Consultants has grown to become one of the top 0.1% of African American woman owned firms in the nation by revenue according to American Express. With the firm’s core value of supporting and scaling minority and women owned businesses in disadvantage communities, R.F. Wilkins has succeeded in raising close to $900 million across different projects. They’ve taken on project management and MWBE diversity initiatives for high profile clients such as the Port Authority, JFK Airport, and Google to name a few. Francilia credits TruFund’s support as the reason her company was able to survive the pandemic – allowing them to win a $3.5 million bid in late 2021 to build the nation’s first African American woman owned business accelerator at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, targeted towards BIPOC businesses.

When Francilia started her company at 23 years old, she started off in the fundraising and capital sourcing side with a mission to work hard and grow her business. 11 years later, her company grown to support 20 staff members, taking on multi-million-dollar projects. Despite the successful growth of the company and undertaking of high-scale projects, R.F. Wilkins Consultants did not access capital until 8 years into operation – not because they did not need capital, but because they could not access it from their business bank due to the systematic bias that many minority-women entrepreneurs face. Francilia recalls the humiliating experience of asking her business bank for a loan of a mere $25,000 during a time when her company was bringing in over $500,000 of monthly revenue. Not only did they decline the loan request, but they dismissed Francilia, not taking her business seriously.

After this experience, Francilia reached out to TruFund where she was able to access a line of credit that aimed to support minority businesses through a program in partnership with Chase. Francilia also relied on TruFund during the Covid-19 pandemic business closures in 2020 – as contracts were halting and businesses were shutting down, almost all of R. F. Wilkins’ business had to pause. As their staff members are the most valuable asset to the firm, Francilia made the intentional decision to maintain and support all of her staff through the pandemic. “TruFund was critical to our business during the COVID-19 period. The disaster recovery loan from TruFund allows this company to still be open today and scale up to the high impact projects that we’re taking on now.”

When working with the TruFund team to get the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) funding, “the first thing they did was rapidly process our PPP so that when the rest of the world was struggling to get PPP, we did not struggle. It was such a game changer that we were able to rapidly process the PPP loan.” During this time, Francilia had also reached out to her large-scale traditional business bank where she was once again met with dismissive treatment and denied her PPP capital. Francilia credits TruFund for swiftly processing the loan and allowing R.F. Wilkins Consultants to retain all their employees through this tumultuous period.

R.F. Wilkins reached out to TruFund in 2021 where they were able to receive their first business loan to sustain and grow their operations in the post pandemic environment as contracts began to reopen. With her team of emboldened staff members who she was able to support through the pandemic, they have been taking on these large-scale projects that have a significant impact on critical infrastructure in New York State and development of underserved business communities.

Currently, R.F. Wilkins is working on a project where they will build the nation’s first African American woman owned business accelerator that is targeted towards supporting BIPOC businesses. With a focus on the health and beauty industry, a market that has the highest concentration of minority and women entrepreneurs, this 40,000 square feet facility at the Brooklyn Navy Yard will provide access to office spaces, labs, scientists, and brand packaging among a multitude of resources to support the BIPOC business community develop and scale their endeavors. Drawing from her own challenges and barriers she faced as an African American female entrepreneur, she wants to ensure that these critical resources and capital sources are accessible so that other BIPOC business owners don’t have to face the same struggles she experienced. She envisions to create a future where more BIPOC women owned businesses are represented in the landscape of small businesses that generate over $1 million in revenue, currently only a staggeringly low 0.1%. TruFund is proud to have supported R.F. Wilkins in their growth, as well as continuing to partner with Francilia and her firm to raise capital for the Brooklyn Navy Yard project.