Editor’s note: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a financial sponsor of Startland News. This report was produced independently by Startland News’ nonprofit newsroom.
Overwhelming response to a new resiliency grant fund for minority-owned businesses hit by COVID-19 exposes a humbling reality, said Sarah Mote.
Applications for the grants — funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation — quickly were closed after more than 100 inquiries within two hours of the application’s opening, said Mote, marketing director for the UMKC Innovation Center, which is administering the grant.
“We know that the need for funding like this is so, so much greater than this particular grant or any one funding mechanism can meet,” she said. “And we also know that it will take all of us — those who can help provide funding and vital resources and all of us committing to shop local — to help build resiliency for our businesses and keep the future hopeful for our entrepreneurs.”
Recipients can use the funds to help them reopen their businesses, buy supplies to keep their customers and employees safe, open an online shop or channel for their businesses, organize their back office, and otherwise build future resiliency, according to UMKC’s Innovation Center.
Grant awardees will have zero financial repayment — the funds are not a loan — but they will be expected to report on how the funds impacted their businesses. Those results will help incent future financial support for similar grant projects, administrators of the fund said.
The resiliency fund isn’t the first COVID-19 aid effort to see an immediate outpouring of need. In April, the AltCap-led KC COVID-19 Small Business Relief Loan Fund — a public-private partnership backed by the Kauffman Foundation, civic organizations and individuals — closed applications after receiving more than $30 million in funding requests in just 72 hours. Within a month, the fund had distributed its first $1 million in aid.
Recognizing the ongoing need from minority business owners, as well as the limited funding of the new resiliency grant fund, Mote encouraged entrepreneurs to seek out support from other freshly launched, accessible programs.
For example, she said, the SAFE Opportunity grant is open to people wanting to start a business in the 64128 area code, and the crowdsourced GIFT (Generating Income For Tomorrow) grant aims to support business owners of color in Kansas City.
Click here to learn more about the SAFE Opportunity microgrant investments from the Community Capital Fund (an affiliate of AltCap) in partnership with the KCMO Health Department.
Click here to check out GIFT’s first $10,000 grant recipient and the new nonprofit’s potential for impact in Kansas City.
KCSourceLink also maintains a frequently updated “Small Business Financing During COVID” resource on its website, Mote noted, which details open programs, incoming deadlines and access to other avenues of support.
Click here to explore KCSourceLink’s COVID-19 resources.