Comcast offers $1 million in grants to women and minority South Florida business owners

Daniel A. Varela/dvarela@miamiherald.com

Comcast will offer 100 South Florida businesses owned by people of color or women grants totaling $1 million from its RISE program to improve their technology and training.

It is the second round of grants from the RISE or Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment program. Comcast said it will provide 100 different businesses in Miami-Dade and Broward counties with a $10,000 grant each.

In the first round, grants were issued in November 2021, and $21 million have been dispersed to 20 cities nationwide since the program’s inception, Comcast said. The program received 3,000 applications for 100 grants in South Florida in the first round.

Grants will be provided for technology makeovers that include upgrading computer equipment and for marketing services to help business owners better communicate about their products. Tech grant recipients will receive new computer equipment and access to Comcast Business internet, voice and cybersecurity services, and marketing grant recipients will receive services ranging from creating content for their business to SEO training.

When the pandemic began in 2020, Comcast Director of External Affairs Marta Casas-Celaya said she noticed that business owners of color were most impacted. “As a result, we understood that at a minimum there was a need for marketing and tech support,” she said.

Casas-Celaya added that local organizations like Catalyst Miami will help small business owners apply for the grants in their native languages if necessary.

David Verdugo, 33, is the president of Broski Ciderworks based in Pompano Beach, and was a a recipient of a grant in the first round. He credits Comcast with providing him and his brother Daniel, 30, a cofounder, with the funding for new tools and training to improve their business. David Verdugo, who was born in Ecuador, said the early part of the pandemic was difficult for him as a business owner.

“We had to close our business for several weeks before we knew what was going on,” he said. “We are a minority-owned business and during that COVID time we struggled but we made it through. It gives you financial support and also learning new training mechanisms.”

After receiving the RISE grant, Verdugo built online stores with his brother that allowed the team to sell its products beyond South Florida and throughout the United States.

Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust (MDEAT) executive director William Diggs said he believes that it is important for marginalized South Florida groups to receive funding for their businesses and his organization provides business owners of color with microgrants. Diggs said he finds that many of those business owners are overwhelmed with their workloads and do not always find time for networking or professional development opportunities.

The marketing component that comes with the Comcast grants, Diggs said, can help many small business owners to better get their products out in the market.

“You can be really good at what you do and struggle to get your next customer because it’s word of mouth,” he said. “When you have a home-based business or small business, you’ve got to market it to people so that other people will know your product is available.”

Eligible businesses can apply for the Comcast RISE grants online at www.https://www.comcastrise.com/ from Monday, Oct. 3, through Sunday, Oct. 16.