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Small Business Optimism: How Our Grant Recipients Are Adapting To New Challenges

Salesforce Care Small Business Grants

Check out a few of the small businesses who have received a Salesforce Care Small Business Grant, and what they're doing with their grant.

We are all too familiar with the challenges the small business community faces in light of COVID-19. Almost 50% of us have noticed small businesses shifting their business models, and almost a third know of a small business that has closed permanently due to the pandemic. But we’ve also heard some incredible stories of small business leaders persevering in light of these challenges.

As part of our Salesforce Care Small Business Grants program, we’ve provided $10,000 grants to 300 U.S. companies, for a total of $3 million to help them adjust to a new normal and adapt their business models. You can learn more about the grants here.

Check out a few of the small businesses from across the country who have received a Salesforce Care Small Business Grant, and look to your own communities to find others close to your home to support. And remember to share your favorite small businesses with our hashtag #favesmallbiz.

Keziah Dhamma, SwirlyCurly — Redondo Beach, California

Image courtesy of Amina Touray Photography

Dhamma used her experience as an actress — at a time when Black women’s natural hair was a rare sight on screen — to open SwirlyCurly. She now gives Black women the innovative hair accessories and education they need to be proud of and embrace their naturally curly hair.

“These women who purchase our products look up to us and know we’re a Black-owned business, know we’re a women-owned business, and so I have the responsibility to be a platform for them, to support them and educate them,” said Dhamma. “This money is not for me at all; it’s really the seeds for me to do the work for these other women.”

Valerie Riley, Lifesquire — Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Lifesquire provides job placement, training, and remote personal assistant services, but it proved difficult to keep staff on board during the pandemic. With the grant, Riley hopes to continue innovation on in-house technology and reunite their team. “Being an entrepreneur is like jumping off a cliff without a parachute … but like every day!” said Riley. “Having people believe in you is the fuel that keeps you going.”

Tony Maassarani, Bake My Day — Shelby Charter Township, Michigan

Cheesecakes are Maassarani’s speciality, sold in his two retail locations as well as restaurants and cafes in the area — but the wholesale business took a dramatic dip when shelter-in-place orders began. Maasarani’s passion for baking and the joy that repeat customers bring has contributed to years of growth for the business; his sights were set on expanding until COVID-19 brought everything to a halt. Their grant will help bring back employees and help them get back on track for another year of bakery growth.

Sarah Gonzales, Tungsten Prep — Washington, D.C.

Tungsten Prep is a woman and minority-owned tutoring company based in Washington, D.C., providing one-on-one academic support and standardized test prep services to middle and high school students. More than 90% of their tutors are women and people of color who are pursuing or have advanced degrees in STEM fields.

So, tutors also serve as role models for students, many of whom will be the first person in their family to pursue a college education. This grant will help them reinvest and reimagine what tutoring and mentorship looks like in a virtual and remote world.

Christopher Escobar, Plaza Atlanta — Atlanta, Georgia

The Plaza Theatre is a renowned establishment: Atlanta’s longest continuously operating, only independently owned, locally owned, and minority-owned cinema. It’s been named, “Best Place to See a Movie” by Creative Loafing, “Coolest Movie Theatre in Georgia” by Cosmopolitan Magazine and “Top 20 Theatre in the World” by Men’s Journal.

Escobar notes that “for decades the Plaza has been the place for stories of, by and for people of all colors, genders, ethnicities, orientations, and faiths to have shared communal experiences” and RuPaul even worked there in the 1980s! Escobar and team have done their best to keep the lights on with drive-in nights, but they’re hopeful this grant money will enable them to invest in the tools needed to officially reopen when shelter-in-place requirements are eased.

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For more business and leadership inspiration, check out our entire Leading Through Change series.

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