Reimagine Main Street today announced 200+ Black women-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs have won Backing Black Business cash grants, ranging from $5,000-$50,000. The grants, which will fuel the growth aspirations and boost the trajectory of these Black women-led small businesses, include:
- $50,000 cash grants awarded to the top three pitch competition winners
- $25,000 cash grants awarded to four pitch competition finalists
- $10,000 cash grants awarded to 150 businesses that launched pre-COVID-19
- $5,000 cash grants awarded to 50 businesses that launched during COVID-19
The Backing Black Business: Small Business Grant Program winners either launched during the COVID-19 pandemic or successfully navigated their businesses through the pandemic. They include women entrepreneurs competing in 10 industries – retail, beauty, health and caregiving, maintenance and repair, transport and logistics, professional services, food and leisure, technology, education and training, hailing from communities across the entire U.S. =
The announcement comes at the culmination of Black History Month and on the heels of seven finalists receiving coaching and then competing in a pitch competition streamed online earlier this month. Participants who received the most votes during the voting period that followed the pitch competition, received the top cash grant awards.
Winner Ashley Redwood started Trap Cardio, her business in Richmond, VA that offers dance fitness classes that mix strength training with cardio, in 2018. In 2020, she started to offer free classes on YouTube as Americans were looking for a fitness outlet while quarantined during Covid. Trap Cardio’s popularity rose quickly.
“My upbringing consisted of living in areas with food deserts with limited knowledge of nutrition and fitness,” said Mrs. Redwood, in explaining why she started her business. “It was hard to follow fitness enthusiasts who didn’t come from the same background or relate to my weight struggles.”
Today, with 132,000 YouTube subscribers and thousands of Instagram followers, Redwood has opened a nutritional club serving protein shakes and supplements, sells merchandise worldwide and hosts in-person classes in a 10,000 square foot studio. The Backing Black Business grant will allow her to upgrade her recording and sound equipment, expand merchandising, and provide outreach to the community, including health screenings and fitness workshops.
Armed with an Industrial & Systems Engineering degree from Georgia Tech, winner Jeannell Darden started her own beauty brand, Moisture Love, to help women who have natural, highly textured hair have moisture that lasts for three or more days and reactivates with a steamy shower!
“We work with a local business in Atlanta, that I also own, which manufactures all of our hair products,” said Jeannell. “That company hires women and college students in the community to provide them a living working wage to care for themselves and their families.”
The Backing Black Business $50,000 grant will be integral to funding marketing and social media advertising to continue growing Moisture Love.
The other five entrepreneurs to win top grant prizes are:
- April Richardson, DC Sweet Potato Cake, Baltimore, MD
- Camilla Banks, The Muted Home, Atlanta, GA
- Crishon Lampley, Love Cork Screw, Chicago, IL
- Kimberly Shamsiddin, Al Shams Abayas, Maplewood, NJ
- Zakiya Bryant, WeSUB Teach, Atlanta, GA
“Black women entrepreneurs are vital contributors to our national and local economies, innovating products and services to meet customer demand and creating jobs,” said Tammy Halevy, Co-lead of Reimagine Main Street. “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.”
“This grant program could change the trajectory of some of the 207 amazing businesses led by Black women entrepreneurs across the U.S. who are the largest segment of new and emerging businesses,” said Renee Johnson, Co-lead of Reimagine Main Street. “Our $2 million commitment to Black-owned small businesses is unique in its support for not just women who had businesses prior to the pandemic, but also those who were blessed and able to launch their businesses during COVID-19.”
Reimagine Main Street partnered with more than a dozen organizations in its national network to market and produce the Backing Black Business program. Meta provided financial support through its Black Owned Small Business Grants program. The $2 million in cash grants will be reinvested back into Main Streets across America and bear fruit for many years to come.