RICHMOND, Va. -- The New Beginnings: Make It Count initiative has been focused on giving small Black-owned businesses a boost since it was started three years ago by Jack Daniel's.
Now it has expanded into the Richmond market and local Black-owned businesses can have the chance to snag a $10,000 grant.
For Ebone Bell, keeping her company's head above water during the pandemic was top of her mind when the nation shut down amid coronavirus.
One thing that ended up being a saving grace for her Tagg Magazine was winning one of the first-ever grants distributed by the initiative that was focused on supporting Black businesses in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.
"That was what it was for us. Huge. It meant that we could keep queer women media thriving because that is what we do. We are a media outlet in print, and online. Instead of us closing, that guaranteed us more months to get it together, basically," Bell said.
Bell is thrilled that the company is now expanding past the two initial cities and will be offering grant incentives to Black-owned businesses in Richmond. She knows first-hand the challenges that African American entrepreneurs face.
"I do not know if people realize that during the pandemic, 47% of Black-owned businesses had to shut their doors compared to our white counterparts. It is statistically known that Black businesses do not get the same amount of investments, grants, or any sort of venture capital. To have a company to see you and that you do not get a lot of support is huge," Bell said.
Jack Daniel's representative Ben Osei said the grant program is a six-week competition. Their company will award $40,000 to five companies.
They are highlighting their efforts in August which is National Black Business Month. Osei said the goal is to empower Black small business ownership.
"The competition runs from August 1 through August 31 and six finalists will have a chance to pitch in front of a live audience at the end of the competition sometime in September and one small business will receive their $10,000 grant," Osei said.
A panel discussion and networking event will be held Monday at Brun Restaurant on Lombardy Street from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
For more information about Monday's event, click here.