Small Business In the Time of COVID-19

Image of Yael Alkalay, Courtesy of Small Bevy

Like millions of Americans, especially New Yorkers, no one in their wildest imagination could fathom that New York City would shut down to all non-essential workers on March 13.

Millions of New Yorker City dwellers have survived 9/11, various financial crises, black outs, the AIDS crisis, but the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have a far-reaching and uncertain path of destruction that has the globe reeling.

Yael Alkalay, CEO & Founder, red flower, and Scott Kruger, COO & CFO, red flower talk with us on their thriving organic beauty and wellness business before mid March and after, and the steps they continue to take to survive in our brave new world.

Listen below on what life was like before and after mid March and how the Harlem-Columbia Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provided a much-needed lifeline to red flower.

New York State Female Entrepreneur of 2020

Alexis McSween, Founder and CEO, Bottom Line Construction and Development LLC, received terrific news in early March for her decades-long crusade in building affordable housing in her Harlem community.

Through a two-year entrepreneurship and leadership program offered by the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center, she was nominated and awarded New York State’s 2020 Female Entrepreneur of the Year.

McSween is a role model and mentor to everyone she meets.

She experienced bouts of homelessness as a teenager. Making ends meet as a livery driver, she drove a friend to an EMT exam. At the suggestion of her friend, she took the exam. She was accepted. That experience, and years of hard work, put her on the path to become a registered nurse and a homeowner.

After years of nursing and renovating homes on the side, she dove into construction full time with a focus on providing affordable housing in her community.

The video below highlights McSween’s exceptional leadership skills and the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center. It was completed March 13, the day New York City ordered many non-essential workers to “shelter-in-place”.

Alexis McSween, CEO & Founder, Bottom Line Construction & Development

Former African Taxi Driver Turns Her Successful Restaurant Over To Her Sons

Almaz Ghebrezgabher, Co-Owner, Massawa Restaurant, is feeling a great sense of relief.  After 30 years of cooking and managing the East African, Massawa Restaurant, with her husband, Amanuel Tekeste, she is expanding the restaurant, and turning the business over to her four children.

She has trouble articulating her happiness and feelings of accomplishment but when we watch her on the video, we share in her joy.

Continue reading “Former African Taxi Driver Turns Her Successful Restaurant Over To Her Sons”

Crain’s New York Business Perfect Pitch Competition: Six Months Later

Six months ago we watched 13 entrepreneurs pitch their startup idea to three seasoned journalists from Crain’s New York Business.  The winner was Ally Downey, CEO and Co-Founder of weeSpring with runners-up, Perk.la and Try The World.  We recently caught up with them to find out how they are doing since the competition.

Continue reading “Crain’s New York Business Perfect Pitch Competition: Six Months Later”