House calls on Black businesses and entrepreneurs prescribe remedies for success

In January, Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses (GRABB) launched a new program to connect Kent County Black entrepreneurs with resources that improve their survival and success — the GRABB Well Being Visit. Jennifer Burns, administrative coordinator for GRABB, meets with Black entrepreneurs and small businesses face-to-face — or virtually if they prefer — to assess where the business is at and prescribe available resources to address that business’ needs.

“We begin by doing a quick survey, questions pertaining to their business. It kind of gets the ball rolling for them,” Burns says. “Sometimes, they don't always know exactly, or how to put into words, what they need. This assessment helps to identify specific needs or support they may need from us.”

To date, Burns has met with more than 20 entrepreneurs and small businesses ranging from retail, food, and e-commerce to health and fitness businesses.

“A lot of times, when you're the person running your business, you don't necessarily have that additional time to always look up those resources,” Burns says. “So, we're trying to connect them directly by meeting them in their space where they are.”

A list of many of the resources GRABB connects Black businesses with can be found on its website. These include banking and capital, business knowledge and planning, marketing and social media, finding a location or space to work from, research and development, accounting and bookkeeping, insurance, legal and government resources.

“They definitely appreciate us doing the Well Being Visit and sharing this information,” Burns says. “They're able to directly connect a name with a face — and feel like they have that additional support from GRABB.”

An economic development enterprise, GRABB fosters the revitalization of the Black community and expands opportunities for Black entrepreneurs in the greater Grand Rapids area by promoting economic empowerment and equity. This July, GRABB will celebrate its 10-year anniversary at The 1530, an event venue on Grand Rapids’ southeast side that opened in April 2022.

“A lot of GRABB’s earliest work was going in and out of businesses, visiting with them, talking to them and understanding what some of their needs were,” says Jamiel Robinson, founder and CEO of GRABB. “The Well Being Visit is a way for us to get back to those roots, get back out there. For a good period of time, we’ve been hosting a lot of events, doing a lot of systems-level work that took us away from the everyday in and out of visiting businesses, touching doors. Now, we're looking to get back to that.”

Black businesses and entrepreneurs interested in scheduling a Well Being Visit can contact GRABB on its website or reach out to Burns directly at
[email protected].

“A lot of times when you're in business, you do kind of feel alone,” she says. “It’s nice to be able to bridge the gap and have that partnership.”

Written by Estelle Slootmaker, Development News Editor
Photos courtesy GRABB
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