CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville’s Minority Business Alliance (MBA) usually hosts an annual luncheon to celebrate minority business owners. This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was canceled. That’s when the MBA, which is a part of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, decided to take the money it had saved for the event to create the Endurance Fund, where it would give four minority-owned businesses $1,000 each.
“Revenue is not guaranteed, so anything that can help us endure is valuable,” Pearl Island Café and Catering owner Sober Pierre said.
Pierre is one of the recipients of the fund. He, like many others, saw a decline in business as a result of the coronavirus.
“We’re primarily a catering business,” he said. “That dried up very quickly, and, honestly, so did the café.”
Pierre says when he found out he was selected to receive the funds, he was excited. The owner plans to use the money to help his employees, as well as operating costs.
MBA Vice Chair Kaye Monroe says the fund is important, “especially in the face of what’s going on. It’s an actual pragmatic response -- a call to action.”
As the world shifts because of the pandemic, so do conversations among members of the MBA.
“We have had many conversations where we convene and bring and educate and create professional development,” Monroe said. “But now it’s going to be more about living and enduring and sustaining.”
Pierre offered some advice to other businesses going through a tough time because of the pandemic: “I’ll say stay encourage. There [are] definitely opportunities even when it seems like, there’s no opportunity or things bad obviously onset,” he said. “But there’s opportunity to find ways to do whatever you’re doing better.”
Monroe also said that between the economic impact of the pandemic, and the new conversations on race around the country, that the door for black entrepreneurs is opening.