Women and minority-owned businesses vulnerable amid Covid-19, local leaders say


GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- Minority and women-owned businesses are feeling the brunt of Covid-19. Local leaders told 7News it’s because of a complex set of issues, including who is able to get federal assistance.

Clippers are whirring again at “The Boss Barber Studio” as men line up for a trim after weeks of waiting. Owner Alvin Reid said it’s good to be back.

“It’s like a breath of fresh air,” Reid said.

He said he applied to a loan through the Small Business Administration about two months ago, and he just got notification that his application is continuing in the process.

“They drag their feet,” he said. “What we were going through is over. We’re back to work now. Yeah, I still owe some money, but if I really needed it back then…it’s too late.”

According to the Center for Responsible Lending, the SBA’s “Paycheck Protection Plan,” which is funded by federal taxpayer money, is doled out by banks.

“The big banks took the money, and loaned it to their current elitist banking relationships,” said Greenville County Council Member Ennis Fant. “So everybody they had banking relationships, meaning outstanding loans, they got the money to make sure that those businesses would continue to have money to continue to pay those loans.”

Fant said a lot of small businesses get left out, including those owned by minorities.

“To have their businesses closed for six eight weeks has been absolutely devastating for most of them,” he said.

In an email, the president and CEO of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Carlos Philips, said the virus’ impact on minority-owned businesses has been “negative and substantive.”

The Chamber’s senior advisor for diversity, equity and inclusion, Nika White, said many minority and women owned businesses don’t have the deep roots other businesses enjoy.

“Sometimes those businesses do not have the same level of privileges in terms of having those deeper relations and privileges when it comes to needing the support through a crisis,” White said.

As Reid still waits to hear about his SBA loan application, he said he has been able to depend on his customers.

“I mean they do whatever they can do,” he said. “We have people do 10, 20, 100, 200…it was just amazing.”

Fant said he wants to make sure a significant portion $91 million Greenville County received in aid from the federal government amid the pandemic goes toward helping minority owned businesses.

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