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DoorDash (DASH) has announced a new program and $2 million fund to support female, immigrant, and BIPOC-owned businesses in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, and Philadelphia.
Called Main Street Strong Accelerator, the program’s goal is to help restaurant owners disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to help them adapt and stabilize their businesses.
DoorDash executive Tasia Hawkins tells Yahoo Finance that the decision to create the fund comes from co-founder Tony Xu’s own childhood experience.
“He immigrated from China when he was five, and started DoorDash because of his time with his mother washing dishes. He saw how hard it was to run a restaurant and how the margins are for restaurants. How difficult it is for merchants to grow. That story has sorted into what is today a logistics platform and services that help small businesses grow,” Hawkins said.
The program consists of an 8-week curriculum that covers topics, such as marketing, technology integration, managing cash flow, and menu creation. DoorDash will give out $2 million in grants to 100 restaurant owners. The grants will be made in two $10,000 payments, one at the start and one at the end of the program in May.
Hawkins tells Yahoo Finance that DoorDash has been listening to the restaurant owners on its platform, and one problem that came up repeatedly was many smaller restaurants found PPP loans inaccessible because they did not have existing banking relationships.
Accion Opportunity Fund (AOF) is teaming up with DoorDash on the initiative. The nonprofit is no stranger to the struggles that many small business owners face; 90% of its small business clients are women, immigrants, and people of color.
“Restaurants have been among the industries most severely impacted during this pandemic. And, like all sectors, those owned by women, immigrants, and people of color suffered the most, because they had less resources to fall back on and fewer connections to access initial relief from the federal government,” said Luz Urrutia, Accion Opportunity Fund CEO.
“It’s clear and unfortunate that the future of the industry has changed forever. If we want to make space for food visionaries from diverse backgrounds to contribute to the future of food, dining, job creation, and community-building, we must intentionally focus on these business owners to support their adaptation, creativity, and liquidity,” Urrutia said.
Applications to the program open on February 23. Restaurant owners and operators who are operating three or fewer restaurant locations, have been operating for two or more years, and have 50 employees or fewer across all of its locations. Full eligibility requirements can be found at doordashimpact.com/accelerator.
Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.