Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy.
Particularly with the current state of the world — from a lingering pandemic, supply chain issues, and an unsteady inflationary environment, —running a business over the past few years has been challenging.
Despite this backdrop, entrepreneurs have taken on the challenge and opened local businesses daily, helping to strengthen communities and drive local economies and innovation. It’s no surprise that small businesses make up the vast majority of businesses and employ nearly half of all employees in the U.S.
While the proven benefits of small businesses are vast, the road remains a tough one.
It’s part of the reason why we established the Nextdoor Kind Foundation. The Foundation seeks to help local leaders, many who are overlooked and face systemic barriers, to thrive and lift up their own neighborhoods. Knowing that it’s even harder for entrepreneurs of color to garner support as they are less likely to have access to capital than other entrepreneurs, we launched the Keep It Local Business Fund, the first phase of the Foundation’s commitment to providing local grants to help neighbors strengthen their communities in partnership with the NAACP and Hello Alice in November 2022.
And while we knew we’d receive some inspiring entries, we were thrilled to receive more than 7,000 submissions from across the U.S.
Out of the thousands of entries, the Nextdoor Kind Foundation awarded 20 U.S. small business owners of color a total of $100,000 in microgrants, enabling them to help strengthen and support communities at a local level.
The grant recipients represent the best in the community — the scrappy, the persistent, the hidden doers in their communities. Each story is inspiring and reminds us that good ideas start at the grassroots level.
For instance, Shannon Wiliams of Friendswood, TX, founded her company, Geniuscribes, in 2009, after realizing years prior as a doctoral candidate that there was a need in the marketplace for a dedicated service for writing professionals to offer their expertise to clients in need of ghostwriting, literary editing, and publishing assistance.
Says Shannon, “I know that Black businesses fail at a rate higher than any other group. I have seen countless minority businesses start, struggle, and fail time after time due to lack of access to funding, and it breaks my heart every time. I am honored my business was selected as a grant recipient. This funding will enable our team to expand our business into offering writing programs for underserved students in the community which has long been a dream.”
Or the ladies of Café Coco Latte in Aurora, Ill. The longtime trio of friends and mothers — all with a love and passion for coffee — joined forces and opened an online coffee business brand with the goal of opening a retail location later this spring. “We know we have a great idea but getting someone to believe in our dream has not been easy at all. We have been turned down for several opportunities to grow our brand. We continue to look for opportunities but find very little that we fit. Receiving this grant changes our trajectory.”
Husband and wife team Jennifer and Shaun Davis of Davis Transport Services in Euclid, OH., are looking to use the microgrant funding to expand their business to a fleet of dump trucks and develop a training and education program. “Our goal is to help minorities and underserved families from our community who may be in the same situation as we were to obtain their CDL’s and start their own business. We have already helped their families obtain their LLC’s and purchase their own trucks.”
These are just some of the stories, and we are excited to see how the grant recipients grow their businesses, while driving change in their neighborhoods and inspiring similar efforts in communities around the world.
Learn more about the Nextdoor Kind Foundation’s Keep It Local Business Fund 2023 Grant Recipients here.
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