Listen to this story
Businesses led by Black women across the nation have received up to $2 million total in financial support from a small business marketing agency.
Reimagine Main Street, founded by local Washington, Pennsylvania newspaper, the Observer-Reporter, recently announced the winners of their Backing Black Business cash grants. In addition to helping them create connections with coaches, partners and other people in the same fields, the program has given prizes to 207 Black businesses led by women ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 for advertising.
For the 50 chosen companies that got their start during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Backing Black Business program offered them $5,000 in grants while the 150 chosen businesses that were created prior to the pandemic received $10,000.
Participants in the pitch competition received the most support.
In the application process, the program offered business women the chance to promote their ideas. Seven women with the most prospective projects who displayed the most ability and strength in their creations were chosen in this pitch competition. The four women who made it to the final stages of this part of the program earned up to $25,000 each in grants. Meanwhile, the three winners each earned $50,000 for their businesses.
“These 207 Black women entrepreneurs were selected from among thousands of compelling applications from women business owners across the country,” said Reimagine Main Street in a statement on their website. “Their passion, vision, skill, and perseverance inspire us. They are leaders representing communities across the nation and compete in a range of industries.”
The 207 small businesses that were chosen range across a variety of industries. In addition to technology and education, the companies are involved in fields such as health, beauty, retail, food, maintenance and repair as well as caregiving.
One of the winners of the pitch competition is Zakiya Bryant, founder of WeSUB Teach. Based in Atlanta, the business focuses on helping childcare centers find educational instructors. Using an app, WeSUB Teach helps substitute teachers find available teaching jobs by putting them in touch with childcare centers, particularly early childcare centers.
April Richardson, owner of the DC Sweet Potato Cake, is another one of the recipients of the Backing Black Business program. Opened by baker Derek Lowry, the company’s origins go back to 1988 when Lowery received a family recipe for sweet potato cake from his mother. Lowry first operated from his car, selling sweet potato cakes before moving to a professional kitchen.
Now owned by April Richardson, the company has improved massively under Richardson’s direction. Taking up a company that was on the verge of being out of business, Richardson revitalized it, gaining partnerships with major companies like Starbucks and spreading the business name across multiple hotels, restaurants and grocery stores.
Working alongside Black Girl Ventures and US Black Chamber, INC, Reimagine Main Street is successfully helping Black women like Bryant and Richardson take their businesses to the “Main Streets” of the U.S.
“Black women entrepreneurs are vital contributors to our national and local economies, innovating products and services to meet customer demand and creating jobs,” said one of the leaders of Reimagine Main Street, Tammy Halevy, in conversation with Black Enterprise. “By providing cash grants and other valuable support and resources, we can help these entrepreneurs and their businesses thrive and grow as we emerge from the economic effects of the pandemic.”