NEW YORK — “This grant and the team’s support are enabling our business to continue and expand a sustainable distribution system for the Community Supported Agriculture program that we launched during COVID when farms across our community experienced a severe drop in revenues,” said Kea Keolanui of O.K. Farms in Hilo, Hawaii.
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Small Business Growth & Recovery Fund seeks to help small businesses in the United States—especially those owned by people of color, women, and veterans and located in lower-income communities—find their footing in an acutely challenging economic landscape and build toward greater future success.
65 small businesses around the country were each awarded a $20,000 grant, which does not need to be repaid, for a total of $1.3 million in support. (SNF was not involved in the selection process.) In addition to the grant funds, participating businesses will also have access to mentorship and skills-based training offered through Equivico by NCRC, which implements the grant program. Of the businesses selected, 85% are owned by people of color and more than half are owned by women.
For OK Farms, a family-owned business, the grant means being able to purchase a cargo van to continue their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box program. They started the CSA program—the first of its kind on the island—when the pandemic delivered a significant blow to Hawaii’s tourist-dependent economy, forcing the business to innovate.
Fun Da Mentals, an educational service in Richmond, Texas, owned by Malika Martin, plans to use the grant to get an additional Mobile Learning Lab Bus on the road and delivering free lessons in math, reading, writing, and basic digital literacy in underserved areas.
When the pandemic struck, SavKon, a renovation company in Columbus, Ohio, broadened the scope of services it offers to adapt to shrinking demand. Now, as the economy recovers, owner Sheryl Marrero plans to use the grant to hire and train new employees to help deliver on her company’s expanded offerings.
For Oscar Sanchez, the grant means being able to hire a web developer to refine the branding of his company, Ambrosia Events LLC, and build out its online presence, as well as to hire and train new staff.
“As a former small business owner,” said SNF Chief Programs & Strategic Initiatives Officer Stelios Vassilakis, “I know how precarious running one can feel, and we’re glad that the Foundation could contribute toward helping owners to move from a mindset of survival to one of innovation, opportunity, and hopefully growth. This is the first step toward trying to build an equitable economy that works for everyone.”