SA company granted $500,000 to help small businesses prepare for disasters

Prep includes insurance, financial readiness, post-disaster marketing, etc.

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - If you're a small business owner, have you asked yourself the question "What if?" San Antonio company LiftFund said many small businesses aren't fully prepared for a natural disaster or emergency, so it has secured a $500,000 federal grant to change that. 

"LiftFund was instrumental in helping me when I first started my business," said Mauro Leija, who owns the Studyhall Learning Center day care on the Northwest Side. 

LiftFund is a local nonprofit funded by grants and investors. It loans money to small businesses to keep them afloat and help them grow.

"We're so busy doing the day-to-day operations, we sometimes forget about the long term," Leija said.

Part of the long-term vision includes preparing for a potential disaster.

"For the last two years, we've been helping (with) over $7 million worth of loans we've made just along the Gulf Coast area to help people after (Hurricane) Harvey," said LiftFund CEO Janie Barrera.

Barrera said a lot of businesses on the coast braced for the hurricane but not the recovery.  That's why she recently applied for the federal grant.

"To help and make sure these small businesses are prepared, so next time, we don't have to go through these hurdles," Barrera said.

LiftFund got the $500,000 grant about two weeks ago. They will use it for two things: creating digital education tools and manuals and hosting workshops featuring an array of experts.

"Workshops on marketing after a disaster, on getting your financials ready pre-disaster, making sure you have the right insurance in place," Barrera said.

On top of the half-million dollars from the federal government, local investors are also matching almost $300,000. 

Leija said the money will go to good use because preparation isn't just for hurricanes. Many emergencies can affect businesses in San Antonio. 

"Powerline goes down, a flood hits, what do we do with that?" Leija said.

LiftFund's new material and workshops should be available within 30 days. The nonprofit will also have teams going out to neighborhoods, dispersing the information through presentations as well as having it all available online.

LiftFund's online platform can be found at www.liftlearn.com.

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