Capital is one of the greatest needs for all small business owners, especially entrepreneurs of color. Borrowing isn’t always the optimal way to finance your business. Loans have to be repaid and depending on the interest rate and term, debt might not be the best way to sustain operations or fuel growth. In the wake of COVID-19, many companies and business support organizations have developed cash grant programs to help small businesses survive and recover.
Cash grants, which can provide businesses some breathing room and funds to invest could be a viable alternative to a loan, and may often be what small businesses need to stabilize in the wake of COVID-19 and fuel their growth.
While grants can be the source of flexible capital, finding them can be challenging. There are important takeaways from the work of private companies and organizations who have and continue to provide on-the-ground support to small businesses.
In late March, PepsiCo, Inc. launched Jefa-Owned (meaning “owned by a Latina Boss”) to help Latina-owned, food and beverage small businesses gain access to personalized business building support services. This program will be led through Pepsico’s Juntos Crecemos – “Together We Grow” program – a $50 million platform providing short and long-term support to Hispanic small businesses, specifically, restaurants, bodegas and carnicerías, over the next five years.
“We know that Latina small business owners are a powerful economic force and they create their own businesses at six times the national average. Unfortunately though, with a combination of the pandemic and existing systemic and cultural barriers, they disproportionately have had a lot of challenges,” said Esperanza Teasdale, Vice President & General Manager of the Hispanic Business Unit for PepsiCo Beverages North America.
As part of Jefa-Owned, participants are encouraged to apply to the Juntos Crecemos Hispanic Digital & Delivery program, an eight-week personalized program offering expert consultation for delivery logistics, technology, marketing, and search engine optimization. Participants will receive one-on-one coaching and guidance on their unique business challenges. Latina business owners can explore applying at: Pepsicojuntoscrecemos.com/jefaowned. Like with grantees through Juntos Crecemos, PepsiCo wants to build lifelong relationships with the company.
“We know these people one-to-one. We know their stories. We know where they’re from. We know what their passions are. Those relationships are going to last a lifetime,” said Teasdale.
PepsiCo isn’t alone in their support of small businesses. Earlier this year, Reimagine Main Street launched Backing Black Business: Small Business Grants, which administered $2 million in cash grants to more than 200 Black women small business owners. This effort, in partnership with Black Girl Ventures, US Black Chambers, Inc., Walker’s Legacy, and 10 other leading organizations across the country that serve Black women entrepreneurs, provided funding to entrepreneurs ranging from $5,000 to $50,000.
In July, applications will open for a grant program for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI)-owned small businesses, presented by the National Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (National ACE) and Reimagine Main Street. Since the pandemic’s early days, National ACE has been involved in several grant programs providing essential funding to struggling AAPI small businesses across the country.
“Over the past two years, the AAPI community has experienced both the economic fallout of Covid-19 and a surge in hate crimes. We are committed to doing everything to help AAPI-owned businesses not only recover from the pandemic, but prosper in today’s world and economy,” said National ACE Chief Executive Officer & President, Chiling Tong.
In addition, here are five additional grant programs that are currently or will soon be available.
- NASE Growth Grants: The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) offers $4,000 Growth Grants for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.
- Comcast RISE: This initiative gives growth grants to women-owned businesses and businesses in underserved communities. Comcast RISE also provides support in consulting, media promotion, and technology.
- State Farm LISC: State Farm is partnering with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to support businesses in 12 metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, the Bay Area, Central Illinois, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, the Twin Cities, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Puget Sound.
- Digitalundivided’s Do You Fellowship: The Do You Fellowship provides a $5,000 equity cash grant for high-potential, innovative Black and Latina women entrepreneurs, along with professional development and access to exclusive mentorship and resources.
- Fast Break for Women-Owned Businesses: A partnership between LegalZoom, the NBA, WNBA, and NBA G League, Fast Break offers $10,000 grants and free LegalZoom services.
Access to capital remains among the greatest challenges facing small businesses, and there is no single solution that will solve this constraint. However, many larger businesses and organizations across the country not only want to lift up small businesses, but build long-term relationships with them as well. Entrepreneurs should keep their eyes open for grants that can help sustain and grow their business.