BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD)– New today, black-owned businesses are getting some help. The PepsiCo Foundation is spending millions to help locally-owned restaurants.
Barely making it, that’s how many minority-owned businesses would describe this past year with the pandemic.
Odom’s Kitchen President, D’Andra Odom said, “Starting with the shutdown, there were no opportunities to really do catering events because people weren’t having events.”
According to the University of California Santa Cruz, more than 40% of black-owned businesses closed permanently during the pandemic, compared to 17% of white-owned businesses.
“Just in general, we have less collateral, we are housed in lower economic neighborhoods,” said Odom.
These businesses also missed out on paycheck protection loans because of the program’s design.
National Urban League President Marc Morial said, “All PPP said is that if you are a business with 500 employees or less to participate. The program should have had a component of the program with businesses with less than five employees.”
That’s why PepsiCo and National Urban League extended a helping hand through the Black Restaurant Accelerator Program.
“This year we’ll provide small grants to 100 black-owned businesses, but it’s more than the grants. It’s also mentoring, coaching, and counseling,” said Morial.
Baton Rouge-based restaurant Odom’s Kitchen is a recipient of this grant and they hope to take their business and delicious food to another level.
“We hope to expand,” Odom said. “We want to be able to offer more services. We want to be a one-stop-shop.”
Executive Chef Brandon Odom said, “It’s definitely been a blessing, just to see the smile on the customer’s face and to bring something different.”
The $10 million dollar grant will benefit the entire community.
“Because when you do this, you’re investing in jobs, in economic activities,” said Morial.
Some said this may inspire others to follow their lead in becoming business owners.
“You never know who you are inspiring and who’s watching,” said Brandon Odom.
D’Andra Odom added, “It’s teaching not just our generation but also youth to come back and be business owners.”
The black restaurant accelerator program is also available to aspiring restaurant owners.