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Black female business owners (like Sherika Wynter) have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19.

Sherika Wynter was on a roll.

Since releasing an insulated luxury tote bag for professionals in 2018, and subsequently selling out three times, her Maryland-based research and development company Thomas and Wynter had been featured in British GQ, the International Business Times and several local news segments.

She walked into February 2020 with more notches on her belt: A Google small business award and a joint venture deal with a prominent Black law firm to create another product for professionals.

“We were growing exponentially,” says Wynter, a Black entrepreneur who, with cofounder Shallon Thomas, started the business in 2014.

As the coronavirus threat escalated in early March, their sales declined, nearly hitting zero by April. That same month, Wynter laid off almost every member of her five-person team, save for one contract worker.

“Right now, we’re treading water and have applied for 10 different grants with no success. It’s a little daunting but we’re trying to carry the company on our backs,” Wynter says.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the pandemic has decimated small businesses and early-stage ventures, especially those owned by women and people of color. Black women sit at this juncture, bearing a disproportionate share of the virus’ impact.

For years, Black women have created new businesses at a rapid clip, far outpacing other racial and ethnic groups. But strong financial headwinds from the pandemic and a lack of access to new funding sources threaten to wipe out decades of economic progress, leaving Black female business owners in a state of perpetual uncertainty, waiting for relief they fear will never come.

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Source of original article: Black Star News (www.blackstarnews.com).
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