04/30/2020|Inside Verizon

Showing up for small businesses.

By: Rebecca Nicole Laming

Verizon and LISC announce the first round of over 200 grants to support small businesses who are making an impact on their communities.

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Rafael Larios is smiling today.

As the owner of the Honduras Kitchen in Long Beach, CA, Rafael is one of over 200 small business owners across the country receiving a $10,000 grant from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) as part of their Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund.

Due to COVID-19, Rafael was forced to cut his menu and his staff, a painful decision since he believes his restaurant serves more than food. “Keeping our business running and active is not just for us or the wellbeing of our family,” said Rafael. “We represent the Honduran community in Southern California. Unfortunately, if we close the restaurant, we would also close the community.”

Small businesses are the heartbeat of communities and the extreme financial impact of the pandemic is leaving many uncertain about their future. Goldman Sachs reported that 64% of small businesses say their cash reserves will last less than three months. And, according to the Small Business Association, a small business shuts its doors every hour.


Stepping up for small businesses.

Since the start of this crisis, Verizon stepped up to support small businesses. The grants announced today will help owners meet payroll, pay rent and address immediate operational needs. A vast majority of the grantees are from underserved communities with businesses that are 62% women-owned, 96% minority-owned and 12% veteran-owned.

The second round of grants, up to $2.5 million, is in progress through Verizon’s #PayitForwardLIVE weekly streaming series, which is currently ongoing.

In the first round alone, more than 55,000 applications were received, further confirming the urgent need for financial support. In light of the overwhelming response, Verizon also announced today a third round of grants, bringing the total funding of the Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund up to $7.5 million.

Lending a helping hand and vital resources.

In addition to providing much needed financial relief, Verizon has leaned in to offer resources and expertise to help small businesses navigate immediate and long-term challenges.

Through a partnership with Hello Alice, a platform that supports under-represented small businesses, we have published resource guides for owners who want to pivot their business model or optimize their digital presence.

Yahoo Small Business is offering a free one-year subscription to Business Maker, which includes a website, domain and email accounts to help businesses get online, plus consultation time with a small business expert. Verizon also curated resources for business continuity planning, including a free webinar series that features experts sharing actionable insights for small business owners.

Looking for a way to help? Verizon’s Volunteer Portal offers virtual opportunities to support partners like Micromentor, where employees can mentor small businesses including those directly impacted by COVID-19.

Hope for tomorrow.

When we get to the other side of this crisis, let’s hope the businesses that once lined the streets of our neighborhoods are still there, contributing to our communities and local culture. We need people like Rafael to continue preserving the diversity and vibrancy that only small businesses offer.

“I definitely want to thank Verizon and LISC,” said Rafael. “It’s an opportunity for us to stay open, continue to move forward and keep providing for our customers and our community. Thank you very much from all of us at Honduras’ Kitchen.”

Make sure to tune into tonight’s Pay It Forward Live to see Janelle Monáe perform and learn more about how Verizon is showing up for small businesses nationwide.

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