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Video: H&R Block’s Small Business Program Connects Black-owned Businesses

4 min read

4 min read

October 19, 2021

H&R Block

Our program with the Urban League of Greater Kansas City is making an impact by helping connect Black entrepreneurs to resources and free coaching. Chris Goode of Ruby Jean’s Juicery, Chef Shanita McAfee-Bryant of the Prospect KC, and Gwendolyn Grant, president and CEO of ULKC share what it means to support Black-owned businesses and create thriving communities.


 (gentle hip hop music)

Chris Goode: My grandmother was Ruby Jean. She died at age 61 from type two diabetes. She never lived a life of health. Never had the knowledge about healthy eating or active lifestyle.

When I became an adult, it dawned on me that this lifestyle isn’t so difficult, it’s just less accessible to certain audiences.

Shanita McAfee-Bryant: When you look at people in these underserved populations, they’re no different than you and I. It’s that level of support that they’ve had.

You know, when people say, oh, pull yourself up by the bootstraps. Well, if your bootstraps, well, the soles was falling off your shoes and there’s, you know, the dog done chewed holes in the straps, how are you pulling yourself up? We can’t say that because not everybody’s boot is the same.

 (gentle drumming)

Chris: My name is Chris Goode. I am the very proud and humble founder of Ruby Jean’s Juicery, based here in Kansas City, Missouri.

Shanita: I am chef Shanita McAfee-Bryant, and my business is food. From the profit to the nonprofit side.

(traffic driving by)

Chris: So Ruby Jean’s Juicery is the first of its kind ever in Kansas City. This brand is more about shattering the status quo and breaking barriers and creating more awareness and bringing new participants into this market, surrounding something that we all need, that makes us all the same.

Shanita: So The Prospect, which is the nonprofit,it is a culinary workforce development program, and we focus on addressing your barrier and getting you training. And then we can help with the family and the community piece with that nutritional literacy.

Chris: The pandemic, it has been challenging. For the Troost location we had, I would say, a team of 20 to 22 people. As soon as the shutdowns happened, we went to three.

Gwendolyn Grant: At the height of the pandemic, H&R Block reached out to The Urban League because they wanted to explore opportunities to partner, to address the challenges that Black owned businesses in the greater Kansas City area were facing, at that time.

We looked at the challenges relative to capital that all businesses, but particularly Black businesses, face. And so, we wanted to help businesses to build their capacity, to qualify for bank financing or lines of credit.

Shanita: You know, most black restaurants are started with family money and bootleg and bootstrap. But other restaurants start with, you know, they go to the bank and they get a $5 million loan and they’ve got $20,000 in reserves, and we don’t have that.

And it’s not because we don’t want that.

It’s that we just don’t have the same level of access, and we go through a lot more scrutiny.

Gwendolyn: H&R Block made an investment into the initiative to fund The Urban League to provide the oversight and management of the program.

Shanita: When we met with the counselor from H&R Block, and we were just talking about like the way that I’m taxed, currently, we were talking about goals and pivoting for Covid.

Because I wanted to move into this online space where I was going to start–I’m going to start selling like classes and products and things online.

Then she was like, you need to create that separate entity structure so that if something happens online, it’s not you, it’s this.

Chris: Every small black business that I know is chasing or running, how do we get better capital? How do we get more funding?

And so to have such a partnership come in that says, ‘Hey, we will put resources in, we will put knowledge in, we will put time in, you can’t really put a value on that.’

Shanita: In five years. I hope that we’re running multiple cohorts, we’re up and going. And we’ve got our little accelerators. We’ve got, you know, a good group of people who have graduated and who are maybe volunteering in the community or back working in the program and looking to expand.

Chris: All we can do is continually work hard. Perfect what we do on a day in day out basis. Treat people as good as we possibly can, be true to who you are, why you are.

Rest on it, stand on it. Be confident about it. That’s the only advice I could ever give is make sure it aligns with passion.

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