Listen to their stories here.
Financial burdens are a challenge small businesses owners often face in sustaining their business, especially minority-owned businesses. Adrienne Chappell and Tiffany Moment, two Black women entrepreneurs in Athens, choose to lean on their faith to support them through tough times.
“I have to really, really depend on God the most with my business,” Moment said. “Because it is a small business, there things are lacking. I’m a one-woman band, I do it all myself.”
Grant programs, like the Fearless Fund, award funds specifically for minority groups to offset some of the financial barriers that come with starting a business. However, after recent affirmative action legislation, these programs have begun to dwindle due to blocks by the government.
On Oct. 3, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the request to temporarily halt the Fearless Fund, a Black women-owned venture capitalist firm and foundation, from awarding the Fearless Strivers Grant exclusively to Black women entrepreneurs on the basis of discrimination by race.
A lot of small businesses do get into debt because we don’t have grant funding,” Moment said. “And now we have debt for years. Now we’re battling. Now we’re stressing, and that could have been avoided.”
Chappell started Chalises Heavenly Inspired in 2013. What started as a solution to her skin condition, blossomed into a skin care business that still stands after 10 years.
The plan was never to build a business, but to find a cure that medicine couldn’t fix.
“When I developed skin issues late in my adulthood, medicine didn’t work for me,” Chappell said. “I did start looking at oils of the Bible and saw that there was some benefits to using them. So, I just started playing around, figuring it out, finding how to use it to help my skin.”
Chappell’s business is self-funded. With the support of her son, Chappell has witnessed the growth of her business, moving from home-based to online to her own storefront. But, expansion costs.
“I need the space, but I had to spend more money,” she said. “I didn’t know the economical impact it would have on my budget because everything doubled.”
Moment owns Worthy in God, an apparel business that is exclusively online. Launching the business in 2020, during the pandemic, took a leap of faith, but being a business owner always interested her. The product was never the focus, but rather the message behind it.
“God is showing me this is much more than just a clothing brand,” Moment said. “It’s a mission to get into the heart of people to know that we’re not alone.”
Different from Chappell, Moment’s business began with grants. When Worthy in God was in the early stages, Rashe Malcolm, owner of Rashe’s Cuisine in Athens, was a mentor for Moment, helping her to get kickstart funding and resources necessary to launch the business.
“To be able to have a successful business you have to have enough investment money for it to sustain,” Moment said. “But through the grace of God, he allowed people in my life to help me. Rashe was one of the first people I told before I even started the brand.”
Though Chappell and Moment’s businesses differ, they both rely on the same spiritual source.
Financial struggles may come. Access to minority-based grant programs may fade away. But the two Black women entrepreneurs, refuse to allow worldly circumstances to sway their purpose.
Ciera Walker is a senior majoring in journalism at the University of Georgia.
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