“Grant,” or, “subvención” is a tricky word in Spanish. The idea of this being “a gift” or “free money” without having to pay it back or accrue any interest can sound hard to believe for some minority-owned businesses who might not be used to this type of assistance in their home countries.
During the beginning of the COVID pandemic, The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) put out an application for recovery microgrants for businesses in the District. District Bridges was able to complete the application for 7 Spanish speaking businesses in the CHMP Main Street. By being able to communicate with these businesses in their native language, we were able to explain all the requirements of the application and express the concept of “subvención” – the gift of financial assistance.
After working with the 7 Spanish speaking businesses along the CHMP Main Street, we secured $42,599 in grants for them to use toward their rent, salaries, utilities, or whatever they needed. We also supported other Spanish speaking businesses with the application process, and over $81,000 were leveraged amongst Spanish speaking businesses.
In an exciting final effort before the deadline for the grant, District Bridges submitted the last application for a Spanish speaking business just 3 minutes before the cut-off. The owner had just found out a few hours earlier that the application was due that day and that she still had a chance to apply. The application was successfully submitted and the business received a grant for over $10,000 which helped them cover some costs and aided in their ability to stay open.
For businesses to remain competitive in the market and take advantage of new clientele, they must adapt to new conditions. One of the biggest barriers for businesses in adapting to these new conditions is accessing capital to help them develop new business capacities or adjust their product mix. Minority-owned businesses face additional challenges when it comes to accessing capital.
In partnership with the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs (MOLA), District Bridges has developed the Latino Small Business Capital Access Program (CAP) which aims to advise and support Spanish speaking businesses in accessing the capital needed to support their business development goals.
We are anticipating a second round of grants to come out soon and we expect that with the help of volunteers from our communities who speak other languages, we will be able to support many minority-owned businesses complete the grant application and be able to access additional capital.
These times have been tough on all of us. We thank you for your continued support while we navigate this tough time together. The Mount Pleasant and Columbia Height Main Street programs have been working to support business owners and make sure that they are informed about opportunities for access to capital like the Latino Small Business Capital Access Program (CAP). We are working hard to make sure that they are prepared to keep their doors open. Help us continue doing out work by chipping in $10, $100, $1,000 at districtbridges.org/donate/.