January 26, 2023 By Suzanne Robertson

SmartBiz is happy to announce the five recipients of the 2022 SmartBiz Grant program. The recipients each received a $5,000 award and were chosen from a pool of eligible minority, women, or veteran-owned U.S. businesses.

The five grantees include a doctor, a restaurateur, an educator, a commercial cleaning professional, and an entertainment entrepreneur. Meet our winners and learn more about SmartBiz’s commitment to women, veteran, and minority-owned businesses.

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Statistics for minority, women, or veteran-owned U.S. businesses

Minority owned businesses help keep the American economic engine running. They fortify local economies, foster job creation, and more. The following statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 Annual Business Survey show:

  • Veteran-owned businesses had an estimated $926.7 billion in receipts, 3.6 million employees, and $176.6 billion in annual payroll.
  • Women-owned businesses had an estimated $1.9 trillion in receipts, 10.9 million employees, and $432.1 billion in annual payroll.
  • There were an estimated 140,918 Black- or African American-owned businesses with $141.1 billion in annual receipts, 1.3 million employees, and about $42.2 billion in annual payroll.

SmartBiz is committed to supporting the funding needs of underserved business owners. We’re proud that 60% of loans funded by banks in the SmartBiz network have been granted to women, minority, or veteran-owned businesses. The SmartBiz Grant program was created to highlight these populations.

SmartBiz Grant winners

The business owners awarded a grant previously applied for funding with SmartBiz, are a minority, veteran, or woman-owned business, have been in operation at least two years, and have less than 50 employees.

1. Gifted Scholar Athletes of America®

Laone Taylor is the co-owner of Gifted Scholar Athletes of America located in Houston, Texas. Its mission is to raise future leaders by keeping children healthy and focused on education. Her programs use sports as an incentive for academic achievement, teaching the purpose of education, dedication, and hard-work. The program coaches are parents who are passionately dedicated to the success of each and every player.

Taylor says, “We offer tutoring and mentoring programs for athletes and we have not been able to acquire any funding to enable the success of the initiatives. Additionally, we have come to the point where we have outgrown our current facility. And of course with more expenses comes the need for more money.”

She will use the grant funding to pay tutors and cover facility costs as well as to provide materials needed for the students.

2. Taste of Heaven Cafe LLC®

Taste of Heaven Cafe LLC is a minority and veteran-owned restaurant located in Mobile, Alabama. Co-owner Edward Moorer has been in business for over 3 years. The cafe has over 100 Google reviews with an impressive 4.5 out of 5 star rating. This hidden gem is praised for providing home cooked, affordable food in a family oriented atmosphere.

In 2022, Moorer applied for a loan with SmartBiz and was approved for a $100,000 SBA loan through a bank in the SmartBiz network. Moorer says, “When we got the email that we were approved, there was a whole lot of relief. We were able to do things that we needed to do in the restaurant. SmartBiz helped us out a whole lot.”

Moorer’s growth plans include local advertising and marketing along with website integration. He’ll be using the grant funds to update equipment, remodeling, and maintenance.


3. Experience Cleaning Corporation®

Rodrigo Olvera is a Hispanic business owner who founded Experience Cleaning Corporation in River Grove, Illinois. The family business provides commercial cleaning services, supply management, and janitorial consulting.

Olvera received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan in 2021 from a bank in the SmartBiz network. He describes his SmartBiz experience: “The people I worked with, you could just sense the friendliness. The SmartBiz rep was calm and friendly. They let me talk instead of just talking my ear off. They were more understanding about my business and how it works.”

The grant will provide capital for payroll and taxes and will fund benefits to attract and retain quality employees. Moving forward, Ovlera would like to offer more services and will need additional equipment to meet that goal.

4. Advanced Vision Clinic®

Gary White is a veteran, doctor, and owner of Advanced Vision Clinic. Dr. White has made it his lifetime goal to help as many people as he can to give them the freedom from glasses and contact lenses without surgery. After serving as an optometrist in the Army in Texas, he founded a clinic in Columbia, South Carolina where he works with both adults and children. His website features multiple 5-star reviews from passionate patients:

Dr. White is AAAAWWWEESSOOOMMEE!!! I was in need of assistance right away and Dr. White skipped lunch to assist me. I am FOREVER grateful.

Dr. White’s goals include upgrading medical equipment to better serve his dry eye patients. The grant will help with payroll and working capital needs.

5. Lively McCabe Entertainment®

Katherine Barra is co-founder of Lively McCabe Entertainment that offers live stage production licensing. She explains how the pandemic affected her business., “We were among the last industries to recover. Due to our loss on our 2020 tax return, we were ineligible for most term loans, and therefore had to resort to several predatory loans and allocate a significant amount of our operating profit in order to survive.”

Barra reports that the industry is now recovering. She will split grant proceeds between upgrading office technology and adding an EDTA (Educational Theater Association) annual sponsorship to help promote the business to school theater programs around the country.

How SmartBiz can help

Are you a business owner in need of funding for working capital or high interest debt refinancing? The SmartBiz team is here to help. Our financial professionals may be able to help you determine what type of funding is right for your unique business. SmartBiz helps you avoid mountains of paperwork with one intuitive application that quickly connects you with the right capital for your business. See if you pre-qualify, without impacting your credit score.* Banks in the SmartBiz network offer SBA loans, term loans, lines of credit, and other custom financing.

To see interviews with the SmartBiz grant winners and meet other SmartBiz customers, visit the SmartBiz YouTube channel.