July 6, 2020
Established in 1987, Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) provides quality business education and access to capital for entrepreneurs throughout the state. Today the WWBIC team is working harder than ever to serve their more than 5,200 clients who are grappling with the impacts of COVID-19, economic decline, and systemic racial injustice.
Here are three small businesses persevering with WWBIC’s support:
Daddy’s Soul Food & Grille – Angela and Bennie Smith
When Angela Smith and her husband, Chef Bennie Smith, started Daddy’s Soul Food & Grille in 2014, their credit was not strong enough to secure financing from a traditional bank. Instead, they turned to WWBIC, first taking an entrepreneur workshop and then receiving a $10,000 loan from the CDFI to expand their business. Today, the Smiths are working with WWBIC to overcome challenges posed by the COVID-19 shutdown, such as figuring out how to make up for revenue lost after closing for three weeks and navigating curbside pickup service. WWBIC’s help with the Smiths’ PPP loan paperwork has allowed them to keep their sixteen full-time workers employed. WWBIC also helped the business secure a grant from the state. “WWBIC helps people like us,” Angela says. “They’ve been our lifeline.”
Legacy Home Health Services – Shanelle Snowden
At sixteen years old, Shanelle Snowden began watching her mother struggle with early-onset dementia. When her mother ultimately succumbed to the disease nine years later in 2016, Shanelle went on to earn her master’s degree in healthcare administration and decided to launch Legacy Home Health Services. After multiple banks turned her down for financing due to lack of a credit history, Shanelle’s aunt recommended WWBIC. WWBIC helped Shanelle write a business plan and provided her with startup capital. Today, WWBIC is stepping up again as Shanelle’s business takes a hit due to COVID-19. With WWBIC’s deferred loan payments and support in obtaining an SBA loan and EIDL grant, Shanelle was recently able to get her seven fulltime employees working again. She says if she hadn’t found WWBIC, “I would’ve given up.”
Celesta Restaurant – Melanie Manuel
Formerly a teacher, Melanie Manuel decided to change career paths several years ago and become a restaurateur. New to entrepreneurship, Melanie sought the help of WWBIC for business mentorship and coaching prior to launching vegan-inspired Celesta Restaurant in 2018. Recently celebrating the business’s two-year anniversary, Celesta is now facing a new set of hurdles with COVID-19. However, with support from WWBIC, Melanie has been learning to adapt and make it through the crisis. With WWBIC’s six-month’s of interest forgiveness, Melanie’s business has been able to save $1,000 per month. WWBIC has also helped Melanie apply for and negotiate the complexities of the PPP, allowing her to keep her thirteen staff employed without interruption. Expressing her appreciation for WWBIC, Melanie says, “They’re there for me through this difficult time.”
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