BRUNSWICK — Coastal Enterprises Inc., a Brunswick-based organization dedicated to providing business development and financial support to small businesses, has received a $10 million donation from billionaire novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. 

This “extraordinary gift” will be “transformative” for the organization, CEO Betsy Biemann said Wednesday. 

MacKenzie Scott Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

“With an investment of this scale we’re going to want to take a step back and think strategically around how to best use it,” she said, adding that no matter how they are disbursed, the funds will help advance the company’s mission of “growing good jobs, environmentally sustainable businesses and shared prosperity in Maine.” 

CEI is one of 384 nonprofits to receive a gift from Scott, who on Wednesday announced $4.16 billion in donations. 

Scott is the ex-wife of Jeff Bezos, head of e-commerce mega-giant Amazon. Good Shepherd Food Bank and Goodwill Industries of Maine also received donations but have not disclosed how much. 

In her announcement, shared via a blog post on Medium on Tuesday, Scott said the 384 organizations selected from a pool of almost 6,500 that her team suggested.

The groups selected include many food banks, emergency relief funds and support services for vulnerable populations. 

Others, like CEI, “are addressing long-term systemic inequities that have been deepened by the crisis: debt relief, employment training, credit and financial services for under-resourced communities, education for historically marginalized and underserved people, civil rights advocacy groups, and legal defense funds that take on institutional discrimination.”

“We provide capital and development to small businesses and entrepreneurs facing greater barriers,” Biemann said, often people of color, women, immigrants or people in rural areas looking to start new enterprises. 

“We’re delighted our track record came up on her radar,” she said, adding that the funds will “help us to continue to step up and respond to the small businesses we work with and new ones who will need capital to respond to this crisis.”

$10 million is just under CEI’s annual budget, and will be a valuable asset as they plan “how we can multiple our impact in the months ahead,” she said. 

This year, CEI and it’s associated organizations deployed over $38.5 million to 78 businesses, mostly in Maine, in the form of loans, microloans, equity and tax credit-motivated financing, and helped create over 600 jobs, according to its annual report.

CEI also provided business advice to 2,315 individuals in Maine, including 761 entrepreneurs through the CEI Women’s Business Centers, 89 immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs who received advice from CEI’s StartSmart team, and 128 food industry entrepreneurs who received business development resources to help scale their fisheries, aquaculture, agriculture and food systems businesses. 

“By investing in small business owners and entrepreneurs who are on the front lines, we are helping them adjust, stabilize and grow in a rapidly changing market environment,” Biemann said in a news release at the time. “These are the businesses that keep our Main Streets humming. Dedicating time, energy and resources to them now is key to make sure that they survive and keep their neighbors at work in good jobs during this pandemic and economic crisis.”

Throughout the pandemic, “economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color, and for people living in poverty,” Scott wrote in her announcement. “Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”

According to Bloomberg, Bezos, 56, is widely reported as the world’s richest person with a fortune of $185 billion. His net worth has increased $70 billion this year.

Last year, Scott signed on to the Giving Pledge, a campaign that encourages billionaires to donate at least half of their wealth during their lifetime.

Comments are not available on this story.