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Two women help looted businesses survive.

[July 22, 2020: Chicago Tribune]

As unrest due to George Floyd’s death rolled across Chicago on that early June weekend, and peaceful protests in some neighborhoods morphed into looting, a small group began to organize to help Black businesses affected.

Two women connected by the shared interest of helping businesses recover, Arsiak Vartenian and Candice Payne, both entrepreneurs and activists in Chicago, developed a simple plan: Start a GoFundMe page. They knew small business owners already were struggling to stay afloat due to COVID-19 shutdowns — and then some became victims of looting. Those small business owners, starting on the South Side, couldn’t wait for government bureaucracy to help them, if help came at all.

And Vartenian and Payne felt helpless too.

“We are both heartbroken and enraged by the death of George Floyd and so many others whose lives have been taken unjustly,” they wrote on their GoFundMe page. “The collective realization and reminder that this country is built on a long history of violence and the oppression of Black people has left us feeling heavy and honestly sick..

“With that gratitude comes heartbreak as this movement has resulted in the damage and looting of our community’s small businesses, devastating families who were already disproportionately affected by COVID-19. ... It is for this reason that Arsiak and Candice are launching a call to action to contribute to the rebuilding of Black-owned businesses to revive and bring hope to these families and communities.”

The GoFundMe page, “Chicago Small Business Owners Need Our Help,” hopes to raise enough money to help uninsured and underinsured businesses recover. The women are getting the word out, vetting potential recipients themselves and planning a joyful check delivery day in early August to business owners. One-hundred percent of what is collected will go to businesses affected by looting, they say... MORE



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