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'Black-Owned Businesses' Grant Helps Owner Keep Boutique

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is currently accepting applications for its coalition to support black-owned businesses. Those applications could lead to thousands of dollars in grants for more than 400 small business owners.

"I applied one night, late night. About a quarter to twelve," said Virginia Sharp, Co-owner, Daemarii's Unique Boutique, LLC . Virgina sharp says her life has changed completely as a business owner. "I was scrolling across Facebook. I had found it and I had only 15 minutes to apply because it was going to expire that particular night at twelve o'clock."

Last year, she applied for the Coalition to Back Black Businesses grant – a $5,000 grant aimed at keeping black business owners on their feet, especially after Covid-19 devastated small businesses across the country.

"So I was like 'oh what the heck, let me just apply'," said Sharp. So she did and she won. "[I] Lost my mom in February of last year and I closed the store in mid-March. And [the grant] came at such.. I mean so needed time because at that particular time I was actually trying to start figuring out how to save my business because it was in the middle of the pandemic!"

Organizers with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation say the grant comes in a time of need for many.

"Not only do we have a number of companies that are just hanging on. We have a lot of companies that are jumping into entrepreneurialism and the business world," said Lawrence Bowdish who serves as Executive Director of Research and Issue Networks for the Foundation. And aside from funding, it comes with a coaching platform for topics like E-commerce, administrative and marketing.

Sharp tells me the grant helped purchase inventory for her boutique and fashion shows, launch a new website, and extend store hours.

"They put you with a mentor which was so needed because sometimes in business you kind of feel like you're by yourself anyway. You don't have anybody to lean on or talk to or discuss things with," said Sharp. "When I say game-changer, I mean things have just really, really lit up in our world."

The application process for the 2021 round of grants ends midnight Wednesday. For more info on how to apply, click here.

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