Grant aims to help African-American and minority businesses in Oakland survive COVID-19 pandemic
Derreck Johnson’s restaurant Chicken and waffle house thrived in Oakland and Walnut Creek for nearly two decades. But now?
“Now we’re just praying and on our knees that we can get through this and continue to stay open,” Johnson says.
The plates are now just “take out” orders due to COVID-19. He had to lay off 90% of his staff and business took a hit.
“Most restaurants, I believe, have fallen by at least 50% or more,” Johnson says. “I mean, I’m probably more in the 70th-75th percentile right now. But yet my bills haven’t gone down, my utility bills are the same, my rent is the same. So, yeah, j ‘just trying to figure it out. “
Johnson got a loan from the federal paycheck protection program, but says he didn’t spend a dime.
“The restrictions on the use of PPP,” says Johnson, “that will bankrupt me.”
This is why the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce or the OAACC is working to provide grants, not loans, to African American and / or minority businesses affected by COVID-19 through its Resilience Relief Program.
“The fund is called resilient because we are resilient,” says OAACC President Shonda Scott. “And it’s a way for us to no longer just seek a seat at the table or to be brought to a table, but to work collectively to build a table.
The OAACC says black businesses faced inequalities and insufficient services before COVID-19, and they want to make sure they survive.
“Black businesses are essential,” says Cathy Adams, president of the OAACC. “Our businesses are also creating jobs. Our businesses also help families. So there has to be a certain level of assistance.
The organization strives to raise $ 1 million to fund grants, through contributions from businesses, organizations and individuals.
“No amount is too small,” says Adams. “And we hope the community, our corporate members, our athletes and everyone else will come forward and do what they can, because then I would really believe that we are all in the same boat.”
Johnson says right now any amount has an impact.
“The $ 10,000, $ 1,000, $ 500, honestly $ 100 right now is probably going to put a smile on any business owner’s face,” Johnson says.
If you would like to donate to the Resilience Relief Program or apply for a grant, you can go to OAACC website.
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