In addition to the $2,000 reward, an additional donor matched the grant for a total of $4,000 after hearing Claudia Lewis’ story.
ATLANTE — The Atlanta Jamaican Chamber of Commerce (Jamcham) invests in the future of women entrepreneurs to increase access and eliminate the stigma of what women in business look like.
At the national level, approximately 40% of small businesses are owned by women, however, less than 2% of venture capital funding goes to these businesses, and this number drops to 1% for women of color.
November 5, Jamcham’s PowHer Summit took action to help close the gender investment gap by awarding a woman entrepreneur who survived breast cancer or domestic violence a $2,000 grant to spend on growing her business.
“There aren’t a lot of resources available for female survivors,” the PowHer committee chair said. Dr. Joan Wright-Good said. “There are resources, grants and scholarships available for women, you know, there are several grant opportunities, but when it comes to surviving a challenge like domestic violence or cancer, there aren’t many who are geared towards that.”
The grant recipient was the founder of the authentic Jamaican meal preparation and catering service Island Breeze Kitchen, Claudia Lewis. In addition to the $2,000 reward, an additional donor matched the grant for a total of $4,000 after hearing their story.
As a single mother of seven, Lewis built her business from the ground up, but before she became a businesswoman, she told 11Alive she was in an abusive domestic relationship that she was desperate to get out of. escape.
“It was really, really bad. It was a toxic situation. And I thought the only way to get out of it is to do something to generate some extra income so I can get out of this situation,” he said. Lewis said.
She first started cooking as a way to support her family, but once it became a passion, it became not only an outlet but also a doorway to a better life.
“I was motivated to start this as a way to survive,” she said.
Lewis began serving her culinary creations to co-workers and soon discovered that her unique style of cooking was something she could share with more than just her loved ones.
“I was like, you know what? I can actually do business with this. I can reach more people,” she explained. “There are a lot of people who don’t have the means to travel, to enjoy a lot of different cultures…so they will never be able to experience something real and authentic and that’s what I’m looking for in my company. “
Over the years, Island Breeze Cuisine has grown to establish a loyal following, but now Lewis said she is looking to the future so she can expand her marketing and hope to one day build a brick-and-mortar restaurant. First, she wants to use her grant to buy a food truck so she can reach more customers and focus on encouraging and inspiring her kids and others not just with her food, but with her story.
“I would say to anyone who has been abused, whether it be physical, mental or emotional, that we all go through things in life, hold your head up high as if there is always a light at the end of the day. tunnel,” she said. “If you have something you’re passionate about, just find what that passion is and go out there and work hard to make something out of it so you can live and publicize your purpose.”