During the pandemic, Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative (AWBI) has committed nearly $800,000 in COVID-relief grants, loans and technical assistance to support small Black-owned businesses in Northwest, Southwest and Southeast Atlanta and within the Atlanta BeltLine Planning Area. The grants are filling a funding gap and provide much needed relief to businesses who have been in operation for at least one year.
“It’s been a super tough year, especially as a small business,” said Phillip Scotton, a franchisee of Ben & Jerry’s Catering & Special Events with a shop in Inman Park just off the Eastside Trail. “When the pandemic hit, we had to figure out how to keep the team together. Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative was incredibly helpful and gracious with their grant and keeping us in the loop on numerous other professional opportunities. We had to close for two months, but when we opened back up, the Atlanta BeltLine proved to be a godsend. People picked up their activities again and will step off the BeltLine to come by the store. We’ve actually seen a year-over-year increase in revenue in the shop, however, a big part of our Atlanta business is catering. That impact has been the hardest, with revenue at only 1% compared to last year. We need to make it through winter – and the grant from AWBI helped us get to this point today.”
According to survey reports, 43% of small businesses had to close their doors due to COVID, and Black-owned businesses were disproportionately impacted. Early data indicates it will take another two to three years – up to five years for heavily impacted industries – for businesses to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19. AWBI is hyper-focused on working to address the long-term impact of COVID-19 and ensuring Black-owned small businesses survive, thrive and excel.
“The AWBI COVID-19 Small Business Impact survey data indicated very early on that 68% of small businesses would not be able to survive without revenue for two to three weeks. We knew federal funding would be delayed to community-based small businesses if it arrived at all, so we quickly established the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund,” explained AWBI Executive Director, Latresa McLawhorn Ryan. “The fund was designed with flexible criteria and coupled with technical assistance to ensure much-needed capital and support reached businesses that, otherwise, may not have access to capital during this critical period.”
Nonet Sykes, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer for ABI, serves on AWBI’s Board of Directors. “Black and brown businesses historically do not have the same access to capital as their white counterparts and the global pandemic has exacerbated the existing inequities,” said Sykes. “AWBI has always looked for ways to align their efforts to the BeltLine geography and we are proud to partner with them to help businesses around the Atlanta BeltLine with this critical lifeline.”
More information can be found on AWBI’s website: http://bit.ly/COVIDsbgrant
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