Three local Black-owned businesses have been awarded the $10,000 BeyGOOD/NAACP Black-Owned Small Business Impact Fund grant. A second round of grant funding is coming soon.
By Jason Lewis
Beyoncé and the NAACP have partnered to create the BeyGOOD/NAACP Black-Owned Small Business Impact Fund. BeyGOOD is Beyoncé’s non-profit foundation, and with the NAACP, they awarded $10,000 grants to Black-owned small businesses across the nation. Out of the 20 recipients, three of the businesses are in Los Angeles.
Hank’s Mini Market, Jikoni Creative Studio, and Almighty Los Angeles are receiving grants that will help them keep their doors open.
Hank’s Mini Market is in South Los Angeles on Florence Avenue, a few blocks east of Crenshaw Boulevard. The market was featured in the Los Angeles Standard Newspaper in May of 2018 in an article titled, “Hank’s Mini Market becomes the store that South L.A. deserves.” Kelli Jackson took over the store from her father Hank and transformed the liquor store into a fresh-food market and community center.
Unfortunately Jackson had to temporarily close the market because of the pandemic.
“Due to COVID-19, Hank’s Mini Market has been temporarily closed,” Jackson said. “We are blessed and grateful to be selected for the BeyGOOD/NAACP Black-owned Small Business Impact Fund. This grant will help towards our re-opening strategy to return better, stronger and safer. And because we believe we are stronger together, we will remain committed to bringing access to art, healthy food options, and safe spaces to our community. We look forward to continuing our work as a pillar in our Hyde Park neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles and be of service to all.”
Courtney Campbell, founder of Almighty Los Angeles, also had to close down because of the pandemic. His skateboard and streetwear shop opened in 2018 in downtown. The store promotes art, music, photography, and they help young skateboarders secure sponsorship.
“We had to shut our shop down for almost four months,” Campbell said. “Obviously the landlord is not going to give us free rent for four months. So we still had to pay rent. A lot of my guys that worked with me before, I didn’t want to put them out on the streets without any money, so I was still trying to find ways for them to at least earn some type of work with us.”
The United States is being hit by two pandemics: COVID and racism. Unfortunately for Campbell, he was struck by both as the peaceful protesting of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis was accompanied by riots and looting.
“Our shop was broken into and pretty much destroyed,” Campbell said. “They took everything. That was very difficult for us.”
Campbell’s business is dependent on having people walk through the doors of Almighty Los Angeles.
“Our store is primarily based as a retail store,” he said. “We do online but our main business is in the store. So not having the foot traffic or our normal clientele hurt. For almost five months we didn’t have anything, so it was very difficult.”
Almighty Los Angeles was not only closed for retail, but their abilities to market a new brand were greatly diminished.
“We couldn’t do photoshoots or work with our production companies,” Campbell said. “A lot of our distributors were shut down so we weren’t able to get products made. It was just a very uncertain time for us.”
The $10,000 grant is instrumental for Campbell to stay in business.
“It gives an opportunity to continue what we were doing for the community,” he said. “To give people great products at fair prices. I hire kids from the community to work in the shop. We work with local skate kids to give them the opportunity to showcase their talents to whoever is interested in what our brand does. So with this money, we’ll be able to continue with the goals and visions that we have.”
Kiano Moju ran into similar issues as Campbell did. She is the owner of Jikoni Creative Studio, which is a food production studio in the Arts District of downtown Los Angeles.
“We tell food stories and give recipes that relate to the African Diaspora,” she said.
Moju is still in the start-up phase, so the closures hit her company pretty hard.
“Our business was really new,” she said. “We had just opened the studio a couple months before and then video production was put on pause. It was really hard because we were coming out the gate only with expenses. So we had built this studio that couldn’t be used for months. Commercial businesses didn’t have any rent forgiveness or postponements, so we really had to bootstrap it just to stay open. When we can open and function normally, our business can have a shot.”
The $10,000 grant is extremely important for Moju to weather this storm.
“It will help keep our doors open most importantly,” she said. “It will help us with our rent.”
The second round of funding will be announced soon. Visit www.naacp.org/black-owned-business-impact-fund/