Small businesses now have a helping hand in the fight against COVID-19: Comcast RISE, an initiative launched this week by media and telecommunications conglomerate Comcast.
Comcast’s new program, which began accepting applicants from Black-owned and operated small businesses on Tuesday, aims to boost businesses on Main Street through grants, marketing resources, and tech equipment.
The program is part of a $100 million pledge Comcast made in June to “fight injustice and inequality against any race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation or ability.” And while Comcast RISE focuses first on helping Black small business owners, businesses run by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) will be eligible to join starting November 28. Comcast didn’t say how (or if) RISE might be expanded further in the future.
“We see and know firsthand how vital small businesses are in powering economic growth, recovery and innovation. Now more than ever, driving awareness and maintaining a strong digital presence are crucial for these businesses to succeed,” Comcast Business’ senior vice president for digital and customer experience Teresa Ward-Maupin said in a statement. “We created Comcast RISE to give these business owners access to the tools and resources they need to survive the pandemic and thrive.”
Comcast’s decision to first help Black-owned businesses (and then also BIPOC ones) is rooted in data.
According to a National Bureau of Economic Research study cited by Comcast, Black-owned businesses were the hardest hit racial category between February and April of this year, with the number of Black business owners in the US dropping 41% (Latinx and Asian business owners also experienced steep declines of 32% and 26%, respectively). Other studies (which Merchant Maverick wrote about last week) have told similar stories — COVID has disproportionately affected the financials of minority-owned small businesses.
What Comcast RISE Offers Eligible Small Businesses
Comcast RISE features a number of resources to help eligible businesses impacted by COVID.
While not launching with the initial “wave,” perhaps the most tantalizing resource is the grant program. According to Comcast, grants worth $10,000 will be dolled out to US-based diverse small businesses three to five years of age “in the coming months.” Comcast also teased that the grant program will be launched November 28.
Beyond sending money small businesses’ way, Comcast also plans to help Main Street through:
- Advertising and marketing consultations with local teams from Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable.
- A 90-day linear TV media campaign.
- Production of a 30-second TV ad spot.
- Computer equipment and internet, voice and cybersecurity services for up to 12-months.
- Training resources via Comcast’s X1 platform.
According to Comcast, once the first application phase closes in early November, services will start in December and continue on into 2021.
Per the program’s legal rules, 282 applicants will receive marketing help via Effectv (32 will receive a media consultation, 125 will receive a media campaign, and 125 will receive a TV spot/media campaign). 325 applicants will receive equipment and telecommunication services.
How To Sign Up For Comcast RISE
Black-owned businesses are eligible to apply for Comcast RISE’s first wave right now. To apply, visit the application page on Comcast RISE’s official site. Information needed for the application includes:
- Applicant’s personal information (name, phone, email, etc.)
- Basic’ information (industry, type, products/service, age, revenue, location, etc.)
- Business owner’s race
- Applicant’s relationship to the business
- Business’s website and social URLs
- Business’s relationships to Comcast and Effectv
- Written responses advocating for why the business should be accepted into Comcast RISE
Applications for the initial wave are due November 7, 2020.
For the first wave, Comcast RISE’s eligibility rules require that businesses are:
- At least 51% Black-owned and operated
- Independently owned and operated
- Registered to conduct business in the US
- Older than one year
- Located within the service area of Comcast Business of Effectv
To receive a media consultation, campaign, or ad spot, applicant businesses must employ fewer than 100 employees. The equipment and telecommunication services category is open to businesses with fewer than 25 employees.
Applicant businesses must also not operate in one of these industries:
- Political advertiser
- Marijuana dispensary
- Manufacturer or retailer of drug paraphernalia
- Virtual MVPD
- Internet service provider
- Gun manufacturer or retailer
- Fireworks manufacturer or retailer
- Tobacco/vape manufacturer or retailer
- Illegal products or services provider
Note that these eligibility requirements may change as Comcast RISE enters new waves. For instance, the next wave will target BIPOC-owned business owners starting November 28, instead of solely Black-owned businesses.
Other Programs To Help Small Businesses Survive COVID
There are alternative programs out there for small business owners as well. For example, Facebook launched a small business grant program earlier this year (we wrote about the program’s initial round of applications for Black-owned businesses). Small business owners may also want to check out what their local governments are offering — many state, county, and city governments are dispersing funds from the CARES Act to local businesses.
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