Inez Long is the president and CEO of the Black Business Investment Fund (BBIF), a non-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that helps black minority and underserved small businesses in Florida.
The company’s mission is to develop and promote Black business enterprises through education, training, loans, investments, and other activities and aggressively promote an atmosphere conducive to their development.
In 2019 alone, Long raised $31 million for black entrepreneurs in Florida.
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Since 1991, under her management, BBIF has reportedly provided over $47.6 million in loans to over 406 Black and minority businesses and has created and sustained over 12,906 jobs.
Born and raised in Central Florida, after graduating from Ocoee High School, Long went on to earn her BA in Accounting from the University of South Florida, USF and an MBA from the University of Central Florida.
However, she had to endure a major tragedy in her life that would have altered her career. While enrolled at USF, her father passed away. “Each day it becomes easier, but you never get over it. At that time, I was thinking I needed to quit college and get a job to help my mom, but she didn’t let me,” Long said.
Following her father’s passage, she had concerns about how she would afford schooling as a pre-law major student. She took the advice of her friend who suggested that she takes classes at the College of Business.
Long took accounting and fell in love with it. She also fell in love with that friend, Fitzhugh Long, who married her after college.
Long began her professional career in commercial banking in Credit Management and Commercial Lending with First Union and SunTrust banks in Orlando. While working at the bank, she met Judy Jones, the former President of the Black Business Investment Fund (BBIF), according to The Orlando Times.
In 1990 Jones persuaded Long to leave the bank and work for BBIF as a lender. Six months later, Jones resigned and Long applied for the job of President/CEO of BBIF Florida and was appointed to the position in February of 1991.
Since taking office, she has helped BBIF become the largest and strongest minority-led Community Development Financial Institution in the state of Florida.
As CEO of BBIF, her goal is to stabilize low-income, distressed neighborhoods by investing in economic development projects that benefit urban communities and create jobs.
Long has led the organization to expand its geographic service area, expand its client base from Black businesses to include other minority and underserved small businesses, receive two federal New Markets Tax Credits allocation of $20 million each.
The company has received two FA awards totaling $1.9 million and has been selected as one of three initial CDFI’s to be nationally recognized and also received the Wells Fargo Bank Diverse Community Capital grant of $1 million.
With its headquarters in Orlando, Florida, BBIF was created in 1987 out of Florida Statute to provide loan capital to Black-owned businesses in the central Florida community.
The organization has grown from a small regional loan fund to Florida’s leading statewide lender that specializes in providing capital to Black, other minority and underserved businesses.
As a mission-driven organization, BBIF helps Florida businesses thrive by providing loan capital alongside business development training. It helps stabilize low-income, distressed neighborhoods by investing in economic development projects that support communities and create jobs.