Minority business owners face unique economic hurdles during pandemic

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — Making do with diminished sales and clients is the new way of life for many business owners trying to hang on during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Urban League of Greater Cleveland, minority-owned businesses face a unique challenge.

“There are non-minority businesses that have received the majority of the Cares Act funding and when that money typically trickles down to the minority community we found out that even if they did qualify for the PPP it was so minuscule that they really couldn’t survive on it anyway,” said Vaughn Johnson, the Director of the Minority Business Assistance Center.

Angel Soto, owner of A-Men Pest Control says he did not initially apply for government assistance at the start of the pandemic. He believed others needed it more, then he suffered a setback.

“I lost almost a total of 26 people because my power sprayer went down,” said Soto.

He then turned to the Urban League of Greater Cleveland for financial assistance.

Johnson says the organization continues to provide guidance for people with disproportionate access to capital. The non-profit assisted more than 1,400 small businesses, helping to provide about $4 million in funding. 

“Some of them they’re not going to recover. They’re not going to come back,” said Johnson.

Althea Young, the owner of No Basis, an apparel store in the Great Northern Mall, says she did receive government funding with assistance from the Urban League. 

“That is something unfortunately common that minority-owned businesses end up or tend to fall through those cracks because we might not have the same access to loans, funding, through our banks other businesses do,” said Young.  “We also might not have parents who are able to invest in our business and generational wealth so we have to go extra hard, to be honest. We have to go extra hard to be sure that we are being recognized.”

Young says she lost 70 percent of her business when her store temporarily closed. Despite a quick pivot to an online sale focus, she gained 20 percent back. Young says the additional government funding allowed her the ability to reopen in a better state of mind.

However, many business owners are still seeking help and waiting on answers in the race for their business to outlive the pandemic.

“I pray that one day it will come and it will be here and when it does come it’s at the time that it needs to come and it’s God ordained,” said Soto.

For more information, visit the Urban League of Greater Cleveland’s website.


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