Struggling minority-owned small businesses getting lifeline amid pandemic

Watch: Struggling minority-owned small businesses getting lifeline amid pandemic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The pandemic has caused businesses to close their doors for good, and in many cases, the ones that haven’t had to close their doors are struggling to stay above water. That’s especially true for business owners that are members of the BIPOC community.

BIPOC means those who are Black, Indigenous and people of color, who can often be overlooked by traditional programs.

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At Makeda’s Cookies downtown, a Black-owned business, the pandemic has made business difficult. The downtown store is one of two locations. The company has been in business for 21 years, baking cookies from scratch.

“We’re used to tourists coming in from all over the world and unfortunately because of the pandemic no one can come in,” said manager Raven Winton.

The family-run establishment has seen business at their downtown location drop by as much as 75 percent, according to owner Pamela Hill.

“It’s really been rough down here,” she said, speaking with a reporter at the shop.

Not only is theirs not the only small business impacted by the pandemic, but it’s also far from the only Black-owned small business being hit. A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found the number of active business owners in the country dropped from 15 to 12 million; Black-owned businesses suffered the steepest decline, at 41 percent.

Telecommunications company Comcast launching a multi-million dollar effort called “Comcast RISE” to help, assisting qualified businesses with an infusion of business consulting services, marketing assistance and a television commercial to hit local airways.

Makeda’s Cookies is one of seven businesses in Memphis chosen to take part after applying. About 700 businesses nationwide have gotten approved for what is being called grants aimed at helping struggling businesses owned by minorities.

“We can’t wait to get started. We’re just ready for them to tell us what we have to do,” Winton said.

A spokesperson for Comcast said this is part of their first round of help. In their next round, the company will be giving cash grants, the spokesperson said.

In their next round of awards, Comcast will be giving out cash “grants of up to $10,000 each for U.S.-based small and diverse businesses that have been in operations for three to five years,” according to a website for Comcast RISE.

Click here to learn how to apply here.