The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a massive financial loss for Black-owned businesses across the United States. To add to this nightmare, some businesses were severely damaged and even destroyed, when recent Black Lives Matter protests turned violent.
As JSU alumnae Jessica Yrigoyen and Kamri Brown watched peaceful demonstrations transform into inhumane exercises that seemingly dismantled a lot of Black-owned businesses; they almost immediately took action, by creating a GoFundMe page that will provide financial relief for those establishments affected.
“All of the stories regarding Black businesses getting looted during the protests and riots were very alarming for both of us,” says Yrigoyen. “Kamri called me suggesting that we do something now to help, and I immediately got on board.”
The GoFundMe page is entitled, ‘Relief Fund for All Black-owned Businesses’ and as of today, the initiative has raised $19,668 of its $20,000 goal.
“Our goal of $20,000 was created because we want to give companies more than just 100 dollars,” says Brown. “We want to make sure we are helping them with a sustainable amount of funds so they will be ok once they begin their rebuilding process.”
“Seeing people come together during such a pivotal and important time has been beautiful,” says Yrigoyen. “This initiative has also provided some direction for people who want to help, but didn’t quite know how.”
Both alumnae explained that supporting Black-owned businesses has been a long-time passion that began while they were at JSU.
“When we were students at JSU, we both held the top two leadership positions (president and vice president) in the economics club,” says Yrigoyen. “Our theme that year was centered around supporting Black-owned businesses.”
Expressing humility, Yrigoyen says, “Seeing our collegiate vision become a reality has been so rewarding. Everyone has a unique way of supporting our relief fund. Some people are not donating financially, but they are starting needed conversations within their circles, about what we are doing, and ultimately those people are donating.”
Neither Brown nor Yrigoyen has physically participated in the BLM protests in their respective cities, but both women say creating this initiative, has helped them find purpose during these difficult and uncertain times.
“Since we started the GoFundMe page, it’s been an overwhelming feeling of pure support. Honestly, this fund is probably keeping me sane throughout this pandemic, and all of the racially motivated protests. I feel like I’ve found what my purpose is in all of this,” says Brown.
In closing, Yrigoyen acknowledges JSU for giving them the tenacity and strength to pursue all the things that bring purpose not only to their lives but to the lives of others.
“We have to credit Jackson State for the mindset that we have now, and the actions that we pursue with confidence and boldness. JSU instilled so many great values in us, and now that we are adults, we are just so grateful for it all.”
To donate to the Relief Fund for All Black-owned Businesses, click here.