In March 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, lots of small businesses were not sure what they were going to do. One of these small businesses was Cretia Cakes.
Owner LaCretia Allen first started her business in 2004, after leaving her career in accounting to take her baking passion to the next level. Like any other small business owner, she had hit bumps in the road several times, but she hadn’t experienced anything like this.
“I didn’t know if I was just going to close and go back to my accounting world,” LaCretia said. “We didn’t close, but a lot of our wedding income was cut off because everything was canceled.”
Thankfully, she was able to pivot and overcome many challenges the pandemic presented, and business is thriving once again. One way her business has grown is by receiving Comcast’s RISE grant this past year.
RISE, which stands for Representation, Investment, Strength, and Empowerment, launched with the goal to help small businesses owned by people of color or women. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, Black-owned businesses declined by 41% during the first few months of the pandemic versus just 21% for the general population.
Comcast launched RISE in late 2020, and has been able to give out $16 million to minority-owned small businesses since, with over 100 recipients in Indiana alone. According to the RISE application website, businesses can receive monetary grants, marketing consultations, media placements, commercial creative production services, or technology services as part of the program.
“Our goal with this program is to help, to use our resources to serve the community, to serve the small businesses. Small businesses are the backbone of our communities,” Shannon Dulin, director of community investment at Comcast, said. “It’s so important for us to support them and do what we can to help. And it’s such a great feeling to know we are making a difference. That we’re not only helping their businesses but helping the surrounding community as well.”
LaCretia received her grant in the summer of 2021 and Comcast was able to add cybersecurity to her business’ internet and phone plan, as well as pay for her phone service for one year and give her more computers as well as an iPad.
“It was a blessing because it helped me do more things with the finances. It really helped to free up some other stuff so I could get more supplies, or boost a post on social media,” LaCretia said. “It helped tremendously, and I appreciate it.”
Shannon encourages all female and minority-owned businesses to go ahead and apply for this grant because of the many ways it can help grow and market their business. She said while a third-party agency reviews the applications and chooses the recipients, they are looking for originality, persuasiveness, and completeness of their application.
“We really want to hear how they were impacted by COVID-19,” Shannon said. “And then we want to hear from them on how they were able to pivot and move forward and what they were able to do to improve the community around them with their business.”
The next deadline to apply for a RISE grant is Oct. 16, 2022. More information and the application can be found at comcastrise.com/rise-apply/.
Be sure to check out LaCretia’s sweet treats at cretiacakes.com.