Running a successful business can be tough anytime. But trying to operate and grow one is made much harder amid obstacles like rising inflation, labor shortages, and the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.
Worsening matters, a January 2022 survey showed Black-owned businesses hit record levels of lower sales, with over half reporting smaller sales than the prior year. Two years into COVID, less consumer traffic, access to capital, and employee availability are top obstacles to business growth.
Now in its second year, the Coalition to Back Black Businesses (CBBB) has awarded 20 Black-owned small businesses from its 2021 grant program an additional $25,000 each in enhancement grants to back their growth and long-term success. All told, that’s $625,000 in funding. Among the recipients—45% of which started a business during the pandemic—80% are owned by women and 85% have six or fewer employees.
Since its launching, CBBB has awarded $6 million in grants to nearly 1,100 Black small businesses in 40 states. The money was used to help the businesses pay for essentials while navigating COVID, including covering rent and payroll expenses as well as expanding their online presence and marketing efforts.
“We proudly back small businesses because they are the backbone of communities across the country,” stated Madge Thomas, head of corporate sustainability and president of the American Express Foundation. American Express is a founding partner of the CBBB.
The 20 recipients who won the enhancement grants were chosen by a panel of judges out of 491 businesses in CBBB’s 2021 cohort. Developing a stronger online presence, relocating to a larger physical space, and hiring additional staff were among the top reasons cited for needing the grants.
Bronwyn Morgan, the owner of Xeo Air in East St. Louis, Illinois, shared how the funding will be helpful. Her science and technology venture includes a drone service platform that provides high-quality aerial mission and data management services.
“The enhancement grant will support us with crucial costs to propel our growth forward for 2022, including hiring more pilots, investing in SEO marketing, web platform improvements, rent, and more,” she says.
Based on details provided to BLACK ENTERPRISE, the 2022 enhancement grantees include:
- Destiny Brewton, owner of A House Called Hue, LLC, a manufacturing, transport, and logistics company based in College Park, Georgia.
- Mandi Masden, owner of Apostrophe Puzzles, a retail sales store based in Brooklyn, New York.
- Ernest Gass, owner of Ballersworld, an education and training company based in Moncks Corner, South Carolina.
- Kesha Aycock, owner of Catering by Design, LLC, a food, and beverage catering company based in Hampton, Georgia.
- Bupe Mulenga, owner of Stephen’s Southern Delights (officially Copper Lakes Distributors, LLC), a food and beverage company based in Detroit, Michigan.
- Stephen Thomas, owner of Focus Complete Lawn Service & Landscaping, a design and architecture company based in Converse, Texas.
- Che Ward, owner of Hurt and Healing Behavioral Health and Wellness, a healthcare and medical group based in Havelock, North Carolina.
- April Harris, owner of Keeping You Sweet, a food and beverage company based in Paterson, New Jersey.
- Lavergne Lisette, owner of Lisette Lavergne Law, PC, a legal practice based in Los Angeles, California.
- Nekia Hattley, owner of My Daddy’s Recipes, LLC, a food, and beverage company based in Inglewood, California.
- Philip Hall, owner of Panoramic Learning Academy, LLC, a childcare company based in Berkeley, California.
- Perry Petit Beau, owner of Petit Beau-ty & Grooming Company, a trade and services company based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
- Artika Tyner, owner of Planting People Growing Justice, LLC, an education and training company based in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
- Aimee Parker, owner of Precision Media and Designs, an advertising, arts, and media agency based in Tempe, Arizona.
- Tammy Brownlee, owner of Prime Proposal Group, Inc., a consulting and strategy firm based in Miami, Florida.
- Kat Shelby Lopez, owner of Shelby Technology Solutions, an information, communication, and technologies company based in Midland, Texas.
- LaTonya Mister, owner of SOW & REAP Physical Therapy, LLC, a healthcare and medical practice based in Bossier City, Louisiana.
- Tina White, owner of TINA’S TIRES, INC., a manufacturing, transport, and logistics company based in Riviera Beach, Florida.
- Ronald Holloway, owner of Woofbowl, LLC, a farming, animal, and conservation company based in Brooklyn, New York.
- Bronwyn Morgan, owner of Xeo Air, a science and technology company based in East St. Louis, Illinois.