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Invest in Small Business Resiliency

Small businesses are the heart and soul of our economy, the backbone of our communities, and they're working hard to recover from hardships left behind by the COVID-19 pandemic. With small businesses being America's largest employer, this unprecedented hardship puts millions of employees at risk, directly impacting the livelihood of families and communities across the country. 
 
GSBA and Comcast Washington co-created the Ready for Business Fund in 2020 to support small businesses. This spring, we're proud to return with our third round of funding, issuing $2,500 cash grants and support services to over 85 small businesses owned by LGBTQ+ community members; Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; and women - in addition to businesses located in rural areas across Washington State.

To date, the Ready for Business Fund has raised over $400,000 to support small business resiliency and has issued grants to over 130 recipients over two years.

Donate below to help us reach even more small businesses in need.

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By making a donation to the Ready for Business Fund, you are directly empowering small business owners and strengthening your community. Donations of any size can make a difference for small business owners in addressing fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, lost sales, and other working capital expenses that could have been remedied sooner if that COVID-19 pandemic not occurred.

Join the challenge and become a Ready for Business donor to strengthen the economic recovery for small and minority-owned businesses. Twenty percent of funds raised will be used for wrap-around services from GSBA including consulting, advertising, and membership for recipients, as well as administration of the grants.

For more information contact GSBA Deputy Director Ilona Lohrey (She/her) or call the office at 206-363-9188.


In the News

How a nonprofit helped this Seattle bakery survive the pandemic (KING 5 Evening)

Ready for Business Fund begins distribution of small business grants (425 Business)

Powerful partnership delivering lifeline to struggling Seattle small businesses (Crosscut)

Grant program for Hill and CD small businesses doubles in size (Capitol Hill Seattle Blog)

New grant fund moves money from big conglomerates to local small businesses
 (The Stranger)


Apply for Small Business Relief

The application period for the third round of the Ready for Business Fund is now open and will close on Sunday, June 26, 2022.

Too often, systemic barriers get in the way of people from marginalized backgrounds making their entrepreneurial dreams come true and establishing sustainable income for themselves, their families, and their communities. This can look like lacking capital investment, the reverberating impact of generational poverty, environmental factors, and more. The COVID-19 pandemic brought so many of these disparities front and center for small businesses owned by LGBTQ+ people; Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; and women. The Ready for Business Fund was established to help level the playing field for these communities, giving them a small boost so they can strengthen their business, give back to our local economies, and provide for themselves and their families.

Businesses who are selected for a grant from the Ready for Business Fund receive a $2,500 cash grant and wrap-around support services including GSBA membership, technical support, marketing, and consulting. This grant does not have to be repaid, and it can be used for any purpose to help the business in its resiliency. 

Priority will be given to small businesses within the communities who historically have less impact to resources through entrepreneurship and are impacted by systemic barriers, including those owned by LGBTQ+ people; Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; and women, as well as businesses located in rural areas.

Watch the video below to hear more about Ready for Business

 Ready for Business Fund_Round 3 Launch Video


Meet some of our Ready for Business Fund recipients!

Redefining the barbering & salon industry with Shear We Go

by GSBA Staff
| May 14, 2021

As the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the early spring of 2020, “the haircut” became a political rallying point at re-opening protests across the country as most salon and barbering businesses were unable to safely operate under new health regulations. But for GSBA Member and Ready for Business Fund - Round 2 grant recipient Dawa Goes-Behind, owner of Shear We Go, the donning of gloves, aprons, masks, and meticulous sanitizing was an easy adjustment.

rs=w_1300,h_800“I think COVID-19 is going to change barbering, tattooing, and the nail industry. It’s gonna change the way we care for each other, and I’m excited about that, because I’ve always been approaching it like this,” said Dawa. “I’ve always worn gloves and my suspenders. I want my service to be comfortable for people, where you’re safe and in your own world, and I’m almost in the background.”

Established in 2016, Shear We Go is an on-demand mobile barbering service based in Bellevue and operating across the greater Seattle area. Since Shear We Go is a mobile business, it’s one that’s particularly accessible, as many elderly, disAbled, and immuno-compromised customers have found in-home barbering safer during the pandemic.

“Even as barber shops began reopening across our region, my dad was weighing the decision to go out for this service. Was it worth the increased risk? With my Dad's age and health in mind, I was concerned as well. Lucky for us, we found Shear We Go,” reads one Yelp review. “Shear We Go is all that is advertised and more. We were able to easily book an appointment (haircut and beard trim) online. Dawa traveled to my dad's home, set-up everything up, took proper precautions, and gave my dad awesome service.”

Not only does Shear We Go meet the customer at their home, but the business servicesrs=w_1300,h_800 (2) all genders, hair textures, and folks of all backgrounds and ages - from three years old to 93. Shear We Go can also provide group cuts and trims for the whole family. Shear We Go’s mission of accessibility comes from Dawa’s love of connecting with folks from all walks of life, a practice he honed during his eight-year military career which was then followed by five years as a social worker, serving as a high school counselor and case worker for unhoused veterans.

“I love being around people and learning from them,” he said. “Coming into barbering, I was like ‘Wow, you can really get to know people on a personal level.’ In business, there’s also a level of social engagement and organizing that I learned as a social worker... And to be a Queer, Indigenous, Black man, there’s a lot there that I can bring to the table for my business, and culturally, in connecting with people. It allows me to have what I like to call a ‘social satellite,’ to be able to tune-in to people’s frequencies and see where they’re coming from.”

rs=w_1300,h_800 (3)Though Dawa provides cuts for everyone, one group that commonly uses his services tends to be elderly white cisgender men. While Dawa says he and these clients might not always have much in common culturally or politically, he says they share an appreciation for the craftsmanship and attention to detail of the traditional barbering services Shear We Go provides - and that his tactical attire is always a great ice-breaker for these clients, often also military veterans themselves.

“When folks see the tactical gear, the shiny clippers, and gold sheers, and how I clean up - there’s a respect that comes with that,” he said. “It’s this DIY experience that people respect, but it has to be visceral, so everyone sees what’s happening in the background. When these guys see the attention to detail, it really relaxes them.”

As a vigorous goal-setter, with Dawa’s lofty 100-year business plan, he’s looking to scale Shear We Go into a franchise with several barbers across the region - eventually operating with an app similar to Uber or DoorDash where users can hail a barber to their home or office, similar to how one would hail a ride or order delivery. He’s also continuing to bake his own values into the foundation of his business having recently connected with Cocoon House, a Snohomish County-based nonprofit that provides shelter for unhoused youth and works to end the cycle of homelessness. Dawa is interested in creating an apprentice program for unhoused or at-risk youth to learn barbering, various employment skills, and grow financial and social stability - a program which would allow him to use his experience in social work.

For now, Dawa is most focused on getting the word out about Shear We Go, especially to those who still would benefit from a safer grooming experience, such as people living in senior and assisted living communities. As one of the 66 BIPOC-, LGBTQ-, and/or women-owned small businesses to receive a grant from the second round of the Ready for Business Fund, Dawa plans on using his grant to help market his business.

You can learn more about Shear We Go and book a cut here. You can also follow Shear We Go on Facebook and Instagram.