The Winners of Merchant Maverick’s 2021 Opportunity Grants Program For Black, Female Entrepreneurs
This year, the Merchant Maverick Opportunity Grants Program was open to businesses owned by Black women, both cisgender and transgender, and Black individuals who are femme-identified. Our choice to target this demographic in 2021 was simple; Black, female entrepreneurs don’t now have and have never had equal access to the funding resources and aid given to other business owners. Neither do these business owners have equal representation in news, print, and advertising. We wanted to take a small step in changing that.
The response to the grant program has been overwhelming in so many ways. We’ve spent the last few months pouring over more than 2,000 applications from businesses throughout the United States. The quality of the applicant pool was astounding, and the need for funding almost universal thanks to COVID-19 restrictions nationwide. The applicants represented dozens of industries, from retail and restaurant to hospitality, beauty, the medical field, law, mental health, and beyond. Every woman who applied told a unique story and made a compelling case for why her business deserved a grant. It was not an easy decision.
The four winners come from four distinct industries in different states, but each one has a burgeoning business, a solid plan for growth, and an enormous potential for success. Each business will receive $10,000 in grant funding from Merchant Maverick to help cover current and future expenses. We wish every one of these women the best of luck going forward and strongly believe that they have what it takes to succeed long-term.
We didn’t want to leave any of the applicants empty handed, however, so all of the women who applied for this grant will receive a free copy of our cost analysis workbook, Don’t Overpay For Credit Card Processing: How To Find A Great Merchant Services Provider & Lower Your Costs. Some of our vendor partners have stepped in to help as well. We’re happy to announce that the applicants are also eligible for exclusive discounts from two of our most valued partners, Stax (formerly Fattmerchant) and Payment Depot.
Without further ado, here are the winners of this year’s Merchant Maverick Opportunity Grants!
Bri’s Dance Place
Bri’s Dance Place is a community dance studio, born from a desire to offer movement classes to pregnant women and new mothers. Though virtual dance classes are still offered, the studio was shuttered due to COVID. Owner Brianna Hairlson plans to use grant money to pay back rent during those closed months, purchase a new dance floor, and launch an initiative to provide dance classes for kids in the community who need a break from e-learning.
You can follow Bri’s Dance Place on Instagram, check out the studio’s Facebook Page, or hit Brianna up on Twitter. Watch videos of Bri’s Dance Place on YouTube if you want to see Brianna’s teaching style in action.
Deddle’s Mini Donuts
The Deddle’s Donuts big pink food truck is a popular staple in its Maryland community, serving made-to-order mini donuts with a variety of fun toppings (including a few liquor-infused options, for those who are inclined). The business is currently expanding with a location at the historic Lexington Market in Baltimore. Owner Robin Holmes plans to use the grant money to expand Deddle’s brand and revamp her eCommerce site to accommodate online ordering.
POKS Spices develops and retails spicy all-purpose seasonings based on the West African hot trinity (hot pepper, ginger, and onions) without any added MSG, sugar, or preservatives. Ghanaian-born, Texas-based founder Abena Foli runs the business with her spouse, Eugene, to bring a taste of West Africa to US consumers. She plans to use the grant money to develop new packaging and revamp the POKS (pronounced “pokes”) website with better photography and recipes so that Foli can show Americans how to use her spices with West African flair.
Jane Deaux Investigations
Jane Deaux Investigations is a private investigation company currently licensed to conduct investigations in criminal matters that originate in Tennessee. Business owner Jennifer Greer will use the grant money to cover business and home office expenses to act as a stop-gap while waiting for reimbursements from the state so that she can focus on pursuing client work. She will also use the money to buy protective equipment for herself since her work requires a lot of face-to-face contact with the community, witnesses, and incarcerated individuals.