Why We Funded Over 50 Black-Owned Bars & Restaurants

BEN’S CHILI BOWL is a grant recipients that used the funds to remain open.

Beyond the Rhetoric

By Harry Alford III

This fall, NBCC and humble ventures launched a program to award grants to Black-owned bars and restaurants. After careful review, we funded over 50 Black business owners. I’ve written below about the program and what we’ll do next with the knowledge gained.


In June, the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) expressed interest in partnering to help as many Black and Brown-owned businesses as it could during the pandemic. Analysis from the National Bureau of Economic Research reveals 41percent of Black business owners disappeared in April. According to a report by Restaurant Business Online, only 130 Black-owned restaurants received PPP loans over $150,000 with further analysis. The data highlights the systemic neglect of minority business owners and the dire situation many are facing alone. We agreed to support Black-owned restaurants as one immediate way to stand in solidarity with the Black community.


humble ventures facilitated a one-hour design thinking workshop with NBCC to ideate, and brainstormed the components of what this approach could look like. The workshop’s purpose was to help us define the current state regarding the bar and restaurant landscape, which segments to target, identify activities that can drive results, and what a vision for the future looks like in a partnership.

The result was financial relief assistance to Black-owned bars and restaurants — awarding $150,000, in total, through a program/application process.

GRANTEE, LOCAL GREEN Atlanta, is an Atlanta-based Fast-casual restaurant whose mission is to redefine healthy, affordable food for all.


We developed a portal for submissions with selection criteria and an overall engagement strategy utilizing existing relationships and new networks across the country. We audited our existing assets, businesses, specific regions, and developed a content strategy to deliver consistent content, messaging, and experience across channels.

NBCC and humble ventures launched the campaign August 18. We promoted and concluded the campaign by the end of the month.

In early September, we reviewed submissions and conducted two levels of review and approval by mid-September. The final selection of businesses was completed in October, alongside the identification of compelling SMB case study candidates. Grants between $2,000 to $5,000 have been awarded to grantees.

Results and Insights

States with the highest participation came from:

  • Louisiana
  • Illinois
  • Alabama
  • Florida
  • Virginia
  • New Jersey
  • Texas
  • Tennessee

Operating Expenses Were Highest Need for Support

Use of Funds Example

  • Good To Go. Jamaican and American Cuisine, purchased Igloos with the grant in order to offer heated outdoor dining.

Select Grant Recipients

Name: Ben’s Chili Bowl and Ben’s Next Door

Location: Washington, DC

About: Since Ben and Virginia Ali first opened the doors in 1958, Ben’s Chili Bowl has been a community pillar.

Name: CupCakin Bakeshop

Location: Berkeley, California

About: Is the realized vision of owner Lila Owens.

She started a home-based cupcake catering business in 2007.

As an advocate for sustainability and the natural and local food movement, Lila found Berkeley to be the perfect place to set up shop.

Name: Victory

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

About: Daniel Victory has been lauded as a pioneer of the New Orleans “craft cocktail” emergence.

Victory has high standards and is often found molding the next generation of bartenders.

The grantee feedback and insights outlined the need for more support, both financial and otherwise, in dealing with the current pandemic.

Their main areas of request for assistance centered around how to keep afloat through the pandemic. According to National Restaurant Association estimates, more than six months after states implemented stay-at-home orders, over 100,000 bars and restaurants — or 15 percent of all eating and drinking establishments — have permanently closed.

We plan to continue our work and create more opportunities for growth for Black-owned bars and restaurants.


National Black Chamber of Commerce

The National Black Chamber of Commerce® is the largest Black business association globally. It is dedicated to economically empowering and sustaining African-American communities through entrepreneurship and capitalistic activity.

The NBCC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nonsectarian organization dedicated to African American communities’ economic empowerment. One hundred forty affiliated chapters are based throughout the nation, and international affiliate chapters in Bahamas, Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, France, Botswana, Cameroon, and Jamaica.

humble ventures

is a venture development firm that drives innovation forward through collaboration and partnerships with startups, investors, and established organizations.

We focus on diverse entrepreneurs and those building solutions for diverse audiences.

Harry Alford III is Co-Founder of humble ventures, a venture development firm accelerating tech startups in partnership with large organizations and investors.

Looking to Advertise? Contact the Crusader for more information.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here