San Francisco hopes micro-grants keeps flavor of the city alive

San Francisco is looking to help the city's struggling businesses survive COVID-19 with micro grants. Recipients say those grants are keeping the flavor of the city alive.

Businesses on the receiving end of the resiliency fund grants say they're a life line that allows them to keep their doors open.

It's not hard to find businesses that had to close their doors since the pandemic struck. But, Peaches Patties is still serving up delicious Jamaican cuisine in San Francisco.

"We have a beef filling, we have a curry chicken filling we have Irie lentil patty which is lentil with Ethiopian spice,' said owner Shani Jones.

Jones says the business was serving more than 3,000 meals a week pre-pandemic, that dropped to zero within a week of the shutdown.

"Like, record scratch, how are we going to recover from this?  How are we have employees, our employees have kids. Like, how are we going to figure this out?"

But, Jones applied for and received a $10,000 grant from the city's resiliency fund. That grant allowed Peaches Patties to pivot, keeping the food cooking and keeping employees on the payroll.

"We are serving the elderly seven days a week, and we are able to do curbside pickup," said Jones.

According to Joaquín Torres from San Francisco's Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the resiliency fund was not focused on San Francisco's big businesses, but the smaller businesses that give the city's diverse neighborhoods character.

"This resiliency fund was created to support those small businesses who are being most detrimentally impacted by COVID-19," said Torres.

The first round of resiliency funding gave small businesses access to another line of assistance beyond federal and state aid. While some grants were for $10,000 others were for as few as several hundred dollars.

The first phase, was paid for out of the city's general fund.  Now, the city has raised $28 million in donations for a second round of funding hoping to save an additional 200 businesses.

 In a sign of the times, more than 4,000 businesses have already applied.

"The pressures are acute for our small businesses," said Torres. "And so for philanthropy to step up and think about them, this would be an extraordinary time for all those donors, anyone really to look up give to SF and give to this program to allow us to continue to invest in these small businesses."

The city is not just seeking out big corporate donors, they're looking for anyone looking to help their neighbors or neighborhoods to contribute.

Economic experts say maintaining those small businesses will be key to the city's recovery post coronavirus.