GSBA calls on more donors to support additional cash grants for small businesses in crisis
Cade Schmidt (He/him), GSBA Marketing & Digital Communications Manager
SEATTLE ( April 1, 2021) - , a small business recovery program co-founded by GSBA and
which provides $2,500 cash grants and support services to BIPOC-, LGBTQ-, and women-owned small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 financial crisis. With this surge of applications, GSBA has raised its fundraising goal from $150,000 to $200,000 to provide grants to as many applicants as possible.
Since opening on March 15, GSBA has received over 2,400 applications for the Ready for Business Fund
, a small business recovery program co-founded by GSBA and Comcast Washington which provides $2,500 cash grants and support services to BIPOC-, LGBTQ-, and women-owned small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 financial crisis. With this surge of applications, GSBA has raised its fundraising goal from $150,000 to $200,000 to provide grants to as many applicants as possible.
Established in the summer of 2020, the inaugural round of the Ready for Business Fund raised over $200,000 and provided grants to 65 small businesses located in the Seattle metropolitan area.
Thanks to contributions earlier this year of $50,000 from Comcast Washington; $25,000 from T-Mobile; and additional support from BECU, Symetra, and Harborstone Credit Union, the second round of the Ready for Business Fund kicked-off on March 15 and is open to qualifying small businesses across Washington State. The application will close on Friday, April 9, with 400 applicants from the first round of the Fund also being considered again – bringing the total pool to 2,800 and growing.
Within the first week of the application period, over 1,000 small business owners had applied. Witnessing the financial devastation in the amount of businesses who applied in that week alone, Comcast Washington stepped up again with another contribution of $50,000, and Verity Credit Union and 1st Security Bank followed with additional donations – bringing the current total above the original $150,000 goal.
“Last year – even though we had just focused on the Seattle area – we received 473 applications, and the financial loss folks described in these applications was severe and heartbreaking,” said Ilona Lohrey, GSBA VP of Membership & Programs. “We’re talking about people who’ve had to lay off all of their employees, and are now afraid of not being able to pay their rent or feed their families. A $2,500 grant might not be much, but for a small business owner, it can help them pay back-rent, keep the power on for another few months, or restructure their space for social-distancing. We’ve lost so many businesses in the past year. We don’t want to see anyone else be forced to go out of business.”
As applications continued to pour in after the original $150,000 goal was met, GSBA decided to extend the fundraising goal to $200,000. The second round of the Ready for Business Fund also seeks to address disparities for small and minority-owned businesses located in rural areas of Washington who face additional barriers, such as lack of access to nearby resources and financial programs for small businesses outside of metropolitan areas.
For Erin Nestor, co-owner of Two Doors Down in Seattle’s Madison Valley and Pioneer Square neighborhoods, the Ready for Business Fund was the boost she needed to help her business pivot its business model.
“The grant literally helped defray the costs associated with operating a to-go business,” said Erin. “The expense was unforeseen and continues as demand for specific items exceeds supply. For example, a year ago, latex gloves cost $55 a case, and today that same case costs $147 – that price increase is staggering. However, the Ready for Business Fund carries with it more than financial assistance and access to resources. As a member of the LGBTQ community, I’ve always catered to my community. Though I no longer see my people in the seats at my restaurant, it’s nice to know that my community is still here. It means a lot.”
Companies and individuals may find more information and contribute to the Ready for Business Fund by contacting Ilona Lohrey (she/her) at IlonaL@thegsba.org
/ (206) 363-9188, or visiting the webpage at theGSBA.org/ready-for-business
. BIPOC, LGBTQ, and women-owned small businesses located in Washington that have been in business since March 2, 2020 may find more information at the same link.
All grant applicants will be notified the week of April 26. The grant application is short and easy to complete. Submissions will be reviewed by a committee made up of a diverse group of volunteers from the GSBA and at-large community members. All grant recipients will receive wrap-around services from GSBA, including membership and consulting.