Last year, Henrietta Smaller thought it was the right time to open a store for her online hair and cosmetics store for people of color.
She knew there was a shortage of these products in the Twin Cities because some stores did not go through a pandemic and others were damaged during civil unrest after the killing of George Floyd in 2020.
However, a few months after opening the Stunning Beauty Supply in Burnsville, she realized she needed more capital to sustain the business while building a customer base.
There was no money in her savings account, and she felt that her credit score would not qualify her for a loan. Through online research, she found another option – grants for small business owners.
The stress for Smaller grew, in addition to running a self-employed operator, caring for her husband, who had suffered a stroke.
She applied for several grants, including through Comcast. The Philadelphia-based telecommunications company is offering grants of $ 10,000 to businesses owned by women and people of color in the Twin Cities. She submitted her application two hours before the portal closed. Months later, at Christmas time, she was informed that she was one of 100 recipients.
With the grant money, Smaller was able to cover operating costs, add shelves, increase its inventory, install a lounge chair for hair braiding services, and purchase a vehicle that delivered to local customers the next day. She also funded marketing and advertising campaigns on Google and Facebook.
Twin Cities is one of five metropolitan areas that Comcast is focusing on for an initiative that was launched in late 2020 amid the social settlement of racial disparities in America following Floyd’s assassination in Minneapolis that year.
Since 2020, Comcast has awarded grants of $ 11 million and provides an additional $ 5 million to fund businesses here, as well as Atlanta, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Through this initiative, more than 200 companies in partner cities have received grants.
Through its Comcast Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment (RISE) initiative, the company is once again offering $ 10,000 in individual grants to 100 Twin Cities businesses. The application deadline is June 1 to 14. Businesses must be located in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott or Washington counties.
The fund targets companies that have been operating for three or more years and have 25 or fewer employees.
“Comcast RISE Investment Fund ensures that the 100 small businesses that exist today will continue to exist tomorrow,” said Kalyn Hove, Comcast’s regional senior vice president of Twin Cities operations. “The pandemic has created challenges and we continue to do everything in our power to help businesses in our community until things get better.”
Sales of Stunning Beauty Supply have increased since Smaller received grant money from Comcast last year. Smaller said she also plans to move to the new location.
“I’d say 70 to 80 percent more people shop with us now,” Smaller said. “With the help of marketing, more people will find us.”