LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – While many local businesses have made it through the pandemic, some are still in need of help to stay afloat, and now a local nonprofit has stepped up, giving away tens of thousands of dollars in grants to keep the lights and employees on the payroll.
“We are bacteria farmers. So, we sell kits and cultures, you can make it yourself at home. Kombucha is fermented tea. It’s sweet tea. So, we use sugar. The tea and sugar are then broken down by the bacteria and yeast,” ” said Hannah Crum who calls herself the “Kombucha Mama.”
Crum owns and operates Kombucha Kamp, a small business in Gardena that ships products nationwide and where visitors can sample a sip of the probiotic health drink.
“People love kombucha because it helps improve their digestion. It gives them energy and just makes them feel good,” Crum said.
When the pandemic hit, however, Crum, like many other small businesses, struggled to stay open.
That’s where the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), a nonprofit made up of public and private partnerships that aims to help businesses grow and navigate challenges.
“We were so grateful that we received that grant,” said Crum, who received a $15,000 grant this summer.
The money helped her business cover payroll and keep her employees on the job.
“Many small businesses, they’re just trying to survive. They don’t have time to go through that information, and that’s why when Hannah called us, we were able to have our business assistance technical team reach out and sit down with her and provide her with the information that she needed. We’re glad that she’s doing well,” said Stephen Cheung, who runs LAEDC.
Cheung said that Crum’s business is one of thousands they’ve been able to help, adding that they put resources in one place and that the help is out there.
“Ninety-three percent of all our businesses in LA County actually have less than 20 employees. So, a lot of them have specific needs and over the last year and a half, we’ve been scaling our direct technical assistance to small businesses, to make sure that they’re able to find the right resources to help them recover and survive pandemic,” Cheung said.
For her part, Crum said there was some initial excitement during the pandemic about making the fermented tea at home, though, now, her sales aren’t where they used to be.
“So, we’re really grateful that this grant was there to help see us through this difficult time,” Crum said.
Any LA County business can apply for help and it is free. More information can be found on the LAEDC’s website, linked here.