Meet the SmartBiz Grant Recipients for 2023

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SmartBiz announces the five winners of the SmartBiz Grant Program 2022.
 Each recipient received $5,000 and was selected from a pool consisting of minority, veteran, or women-owned U.S. companies.

Five grantees were selected: a doctor; a restaurateur; an educator; a commercial cleaner professional and an entertainment entrepreneur. Learn more about SmartBiz and its commitment to women-, veteran-, and minority owned businesses.

Statistic for women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned businesses in the U.S.

Minority-owned businesses are essential to the American economy. They strengthen local economies, create jobs, and much more. These statistics are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Business Survey for 2021.

  • Veteran owned businesses generated an estimated $926.7 Billion in revenue, had 3.6 Million employees and paid $176.6 Billion in annual wages.
  • Women owned businesses reported an estimated $1.9 trillion of revenue, 10.9 millions employees and $432.1 Billion in annual payroll.
  • An estimated 140,918 Black or African American owned businesses had $141.1 billion of annual revenue, 1.3 millions employees, and $42.2 billion of annual payroll.

SmartBiz supports the funding needs for underserved businesses. We are proud to say that 60% of the loans funded by SmartBiz banks have gone to businesses owned by women, minorities, or veterans. SmartBiz Grants was created for these groups.

SmartBiz Grant winners

Business owners who received a grant are women, veterans, and minority-owned businesses that have been operating for at least two years. They also have fewer than 50 employees.

1. Gifted Scholar Athletes Of America (r)

Laone Taylor, a co-owner of gifted scholar athletes of America in Houston, Texas. Its goal is to develop future leaders through a healthy lifestyle and a focus on education. Her programs encourage academic success by using sports to teach the importance of education, hard work, and dedication. Parents are the program coaches and they are dedicated to each player’s success.

Taylor says: “We have tutoring and mentorship programs for athletes, but we’ve not been able get any funding that would allow us to make these initiatives successful. We have also outgrown our existing facility. “Of course, with increased expenses comes a need for additional money.”

She will use grant funds to cover the costs of the facility and to purchase materials for her students.

2. Taste of Heaven Cafe LLC (r)

Taste of Heaven Cafe LLC, a restaurant owned by veterans and minorities in Mobile, Alabama. Edward Moorer, the co-owner of Taste of Heaven Cafe LLC, has been in business over three years. Over 100 Google reviews have been left for the cafe, with a 4.5-star rating. This hidden gem has been praised for its home-cooked, affordable food and family-oriented atmosphere.

Moorer, in 2022 applied for a SmartBiz loan and was approved for $100,000 SBA through a SmartBiz bank. Moorer said, “When we received the email confirming our approval, we felt a lot of relief.” We were able do the things we needed to in the restaurant. SmartBiz was a great help to us.

Moorer’s plans for growth include local marketing and advertising, as well as website integration. The grant money will be used to upgrade equipment, remodel, and maintain.

3. Experience Cleaning Corporation (r)

Rodrigo Olvera, a Hispanic entrepreneur, founded Experience Cleaning Corporation at River Grove in Illinois. The family-owned business offers commercial cleaning services as well as supply management and janitorial consultation.

Olvera received in 2021 a Paycheck Protection Program loan from a SmartBiz bank. “You could feel the friendliness of everyone I worked with,” he says. The SmartBiz representative was friendly and calm. Instead of talking at me, they let me speak. They were more understanding of my business and the way it operates.”

The grant will cover payroll and taxes, and fund employee benefits that will help to retain and attract quality employees. Ovlera wants to expand its services in the future and will require additional equipment to achieve that goal.

4. Advanced Vision Clinic (r)

Gary White is an experienced doctor and the owner of Advanced Vision Clinic. Dr. White’s life goal is to help as many as possible to be free from glasses and contacts without surgery. He worked as an army optometrist for Texas before establishing a clinic where he treats both adults and kids. The website of his clinic features many 5-star testimonials from patients who are passionate about the work he does.

Dr. White wants to upgrade his medical equipment in order to better serve patients with dry eyes. The grant will be used to help pay for payroll and cover working capital requirements.

5. Lively McCabe Entertainment (r)

Katherine Barra, co-founder at Lively Mcabe Entertainment, offers live stage production licenses. She describes how the pandemic impacted her business. “We were one of the last industries that recovered.” We were unable to get term loans due to the loss we had on our 2020 tax returns. Therefore, to survive, we had to take out several predatory loans.

Barra reports the industry has recovered. She will use the grant money to upgrade office technology, and to add an EDTA sponsorship (Educational Theater Association), to help promote her business in school theater programs across the country.

SmartBiz – How it can help

Do you need funding to refinance high-interest debt or for working capital? SmartBiz is here to assist you. Our financial experts may be able help you determine the type of funding that is best for your business. SmartBiz allows you to avoid mountains of paper with a single intuitive application. It connects you quickly with the capital you need for your business. You can check if you are pre-qualified without affecting your credit score. * SmartBiz banks offer loans for small businesses term loan credit lines and other customized financing.

Visit the SmartBiz channel to see interviews with SmartBiz grant recipients and meet other SmartBiz clients.

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