Three Bedford-Stuyvesant businesses were awarded $10,000 cash grants on Aug. 13, thanks to a program that aims to help women- and minority-owned businesses stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It really is an honor to be recognized,” said Jamila McGill, a co-owner of Brooklyn Tea, which has been in business on Nostrand Avenue near Fulton Street since 2018.
Business owners say the cash will help them stay open and retain staff at a time when 30 percent of certified minority or women-owned businesses say they may not survive the next month.
“Because of the impact of COVID, there are multiple ways that this grant is going to be used,” said McGill. “It’s going to help us sustain our staff, it’s going to help sustain our inventory, it helps us better serve our customers.”
The grant program was launched in Brooklyn last week, and will soon expand into a $10 million program nationwide. Fiserv CEO Frank Bisignano, a Mill Basin native, said the firm wanted to launch the program in Kings County due to the devastation the pandemic has brought to the borough’s economy.
“I saw that the streets of Brooklyn got pretty pounded, both from COVID, and the after-effects of COVID,” said Bisignano. “I watched all the zip codes, I analyzed all the data, and I thought ‘the recovery of Brooklyn is one of the most important recoveries in the country.’”
Small businesses in Brooklyn and across the city are continuing to suffer amid a downturn in foot traffic due to the pandemic, with some models predicting one-third of the city’s mom and pop shops closing by the end of the pandemic.