“This week, I should be introduced to my business mentor which I’m really excited about,” Brown said. “(This) is my first time having an actual business mentor. I have friends and people I know in business that teach me a lot of stuff, but for someone to be able to focus on me, it’s really cool.”
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In 2018, De’Lish Cafe, a Cajun-Creole comfort food restaurant, closed its doors after eight years in downtown Dayton at 139 N. Main St. In January 2020, Brown began selling food again, and soon after, opened the De’Lish food truck.
However, because Brown didn’t have business in 2019, she could not prove a loss. Many local and state grants were available, but De’Lish did not qualify for those funds, she said.
According to the PepsiCo Foundation, 41 percent of Black-owned businesses have shuttered since February 2020 compared to just 17 percent of white-owned businesses.
“So, when this came along, it was just a good feeling like, ‘Okay, well there’s something out there,’” Brown said. “It’s hard when you have a business. (In terms of) most food trucks, we have less than five employees, and for some of us, it may be only us.”
Brown was grateful the Black Restaurant Accelerator Program didn’t have many of the eliminating qualifiers that other grants have had. She hopes more grants like this come around for businesses that are “extra small.”
“Black businesses and consumers are among the key contributors to the economic strength of our nation, and they deserve equal recognition and support for the vital role they play in our communities,” said Marc H. Morial, President & CEO of the National Urban League. “We are proud to partner with The PepsiCo Foundation on a matter of crucial importance that helps business owners and addresses one of the critical economic disparities impacting Black communities.”