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BET Partners With Harlem Businesses And Apollo Theater To Aid Struggling Entrepreneurs

Many small businesses are still feeling the impact of the pandemic. Here’s one way to get help.

COVID-19 dealt Black-owned businesses a significant setback and many are still finding a way to crawl their way back. Business ownership among Black entrepreneurs declined more than 40 percent from February 2020 to April 2020, an analysis by the House Committee on Small Businesses found. It represented the highest decline of business owners across all racial and ethnic groups.

Unfortunately, recovery has been slow. A Goldman Sachs survey, published in September 2021, revealed that a high percentage of Black-owned small businesses operate on the brink of collapse. On average, 44 percent of small business owners have less than three months’ cash reserves. For Black entrepreneurs, that figure is 51 percent.

To help small businesses in the Harlem community recover from the pandemic, BET is collaborating with the 125th Street Business Improvement District (BID) and the Apollo Theater.

On Monday (Feb. 28), the partners renewed the Harlem Entrepreneurial Microgrant Initiative. Through the program, 10 local Harlem businesses and nonprofits will receive a $10,000 grant from BET to support their recovery from COVID-19 and to honor the entrepreneurial spirit of Soul Train’s innovator and pioneer, Don Cornelius.

“Through social impact partnerships, BET continues to support Black communities as they emerge stronger post-COVID,” Jeanine Liburd, BET’s chief social impact and communications officer, said.

“From providing COVID-19 relief through BET’s Saving Our Selves Fund to establishing the Harlem Entrepreneurial Microgrant Initiative, BET is focused on being a resource to our communities during challenging times, and we will absolutely continue to use our platforms to uplift the communities we serve.”

RELATED: 5 Ways to Save Black Businesses Impacted By The Coronavirus Pandemic

Established in 2020, in response to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black communities, this third round of the microgrant initiative will continue to aid in small business recovery. To date, the 2020 and 2021 Harlem Microgrant program has awarded 40 recipients and, in this iteration with BET, will continue to provide relief and resources to the community.

“Small businesses and cultural organizations are staples in the Harlem community. Our social impact partnership with BET takes the Apollo Theater and 125th Street BID’s microgrant program to a new and important higher level,” Barbara Askins, 125th Street BID’s president and CEO, said.

The non-profit organization is one of 76 BIDs in various New York City neighborhoods that serve some 96,000 businesses. Their services range from business development and capital improvements in their respective corridors to community beautification.

Askins continued, “We are now able to bring additional financial support for those who are surviving COVID-19 and need continued support to move into sustainability.”

RELATED: Small Black Businesses Receive $20 Million Donation From Wells Fargo

Apollo Theater’s President and CEO Jonelle Procope said she looks forward to the partnership helping to enhance the community. Harlem’s iconic theater has long been a leader in Black culture and an integral part of the community.

“The Apollo remains committed to providing support to our neighbors. As we enter year three, it’s clear that even though we are all still dealing with the effects of COVID, the Harlem community remains resilient,” Procope added.

Applications will be open from March 1 to March 31, and recipients will be notified the week of April 24. To review the complete eligibility requirements and submit an application, please download and complete the application here.

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