Sherry Lumpkins was sure to set an alarm to apply for the PPP loan as soon as the application opened. The pandemic had already affected her technology business, Blue Symphony, which helps other businesses build software and marketing solutions. In response to COVID-19, several of her major business clients had canceled their projects and the result was a big financial hit to her business.
“We had to scale back on expectations,” said Lumpkin. “It was frightening.”
Although she applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan as soon as the application opened, she did not receive funding at first.
“It was extremely discouraging and it was months that I'm trying to figure out how to survive without this [loss business revenue],” Lumpkins said.
Then, Lumpkins heard about and applied for the Kansas City Minority Business Resiliency Grant, a program supported by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and administered by the UMKC Innovation Center. The fund for $100,000 awarded grants to Lumpkins and 22 other local entrepreneurs of color. In addition, more than 60% of the grants went to women-owned businesses
All businesses awarded a microgrant are majority owned by racial/ethnic minority entrepreneurs, are located in the Kansas City Metropolitan Statistical Area, have proof of sales in 2019 that didn’t exceed $250,000 and have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.
The grant’s 100-applicant threshold was met within two hours of the grant application opening on Aug. 17. Interest in the grants were obviously a reflection of need, but also the fact that the funding is in the form of a grant that does not have to be repaid.
Businesses could ask for funding from between $500 to $5,000. Of the 23 businesses receiving funding, 20 received the full amount they requested, according to the UMKC Innovation Center.
“It was an honor to be a part of this grant opportunity. With many of the federal small business aid programs not reaching our entrepreneurs of color, this was a unique opportunity to create equity,” said Davin Gordon, one of the members on the grant application evaluation committee and senior business development officer at AltCap, in a press release announcing the grant recepients.
Lumpkins said the grant will help Blue Symphony invest in tools to build software quicker and more efficiently and help her clients with Zoom and remote communication, which is a way she has learned to adapt her business since the pandemic.
“In addition to the money, having the acknowledgement that we are a legitimate business that has something legitimate to offer, that recognition, it means a lot and it's very encouraging,” Lumpkins said. “Maybe somebody does get it and not everyone is deprioritizing us.”
For more opportunities for local and national grants and loans for small businesses, visit: kcsourcelink.com/covidfinance
Entrepreneurs and businesses supported through the fund’s grant rollout include:
• Matthew Semegran, Royal Executive Cleaning Services, Independence
• Miel Castagna-Herrera, Café Corazón, Kansas City
• Natasha El-Scari, Natasha Ria Ltd, Kansas City
• Philip Hickman, MindAble Solutions LLC, Kansas City
• LaRonda LaNear, We Got It Covered Catering Services LLC, Kansas City
• Sherry Lumpkins, Blue Symphony LLC, Kansas City
• Nicole Ortega, Clothz Minded, Kansas City
• Brandon Redmond, Triple B’s Renovations, Kansas City
• Keith Stanfield, Opus 76 LLC, Kansas City
• Michael Thomas, Shotz Grill & Grocery, Kansas City
• Ann Winston, Winston Management Services LLC, Kansas City
• AbdulRasheed Yahaya, Local Legends Gaming LLC, Kansas City
• Katherine Alsip, ThriveOn Concepts, North Kansas City
• DeNira Dedeaux, Sean M Horton Atelier, Raytown
• Shelley Cooper, Diversity Telehealth LLC, KC
• Martin Jimenez, MJ Design and Parts LLC, Kansas City
• Tina Medina, Wise Writers and Speakers, Kansas City
• James Watson, Jayhawk One-Day Cleaners, Kansas City
• Damon Washington, DS Washington & Associates LLC, Kansas City
• Debra Roark, Spirit Life Apparel & Screenprinting, Merriam
• Jacquelyn Brown-Hadnot, Mallie Boushaye Bath & Body Essentials, Overland Park
• Kevin Doyle, Break Free Kansas City Hip Hop School, Overland Park
• Lisa Ragan, Safely Delicious LLC, Overland Park