Kaffa Coffee and Wine Bar’s owner Milen Gebreselassie. Kaffa is one of the Comcast RISE grant recipients in King County. (Photo: Intentionalist)

In November of 2021, Comcast Washington announced 100 small business Comcast RISE grant recipients in King and Pierce counties. Comcast RISE was created to invest in the success of the critical businesses in our communities by providing valuable and practical support. Alongside funding, the grant recipients receive marketing and technology services.

As part of our #SpendLikeItMatters mission, we’re excited to highlight Comcast RISE grant recipients to share the stories of the people behind them.

We caught up with Claire Sumadiwirya (Bellden Cafe), Tina Fahnbulleh (Gold Coast Ghal Kitchen), Milen Gebreselassie (Kaffa Coffee and Wine Bar), Alyssa Anderson (Piroshki on 3rd), and Lois Ko (Sweet Alchemy Ice Creamery) to learn more about what the grant means to their businesses.

Lifting up diverse-owned businesses

Claire, who learned about the Comcast RISE grant through our founder Laura Clise, is proud to be a recipient of a grant that is specifically focused on supporting women and people of color. 

“As a small business owner in hospitality it is already very difficult to navigate through the pandemic,” Claire said. “Furthermore, being part of a systematic[ally] marginalized group often adds more challenges that are unique to these causes.”

Alyssa also noted minority-owned businesses face systemic hurdles in accessing support or assistance. She heard about the Comcast RISE goal to bridge that gap and grow more opportunities for businesses like Piroshki on 3rd through Intentionalist’s newsletter. 

“Seeing organizations like Comcast and Intentionalist rise to the occasion to offer any assistance that they can shows us that our society is starting to move in the right direction,” Alyssa said. “It’s amazing to be able to watch that and be a part of it.”

The Comcast RISE grant also gives recipients access to Ureeka, a small business growth engine providing tools and resources that help businesses grow. Lois, who also learned about the grant through Intentionalist, is glad to be a part of the Ureeka community. 

“As someone who jumped into business without formal training, I’ve found fellow women and minority entrepreneurs on a similar path and journey as myself,” she said. 

RISE and grow

The RISE recipients each have different goals the funding will help them achieve. Claire wants to create educational support for other women of color in the journey of entrepreneurship.

At Sweet Alchemy Ice Cream, Lois will use the grant to invest in merchandise that supports their ice cream and dessert theme.

Tina is excited to explore ideas at Gold Coast Ghal Kitchen that she’s had for a while. With this grant, which she learned about through Ventures, she will hopefully be able to bring some of those ideas to fruition. 

Milen is planning on using the grant to ensure Kaffa Coffee and Wine Bar endures the coming unpredictable challenges. She has been a Comcast customer since 2014 and received promotional emails about the grant as well as heard about it through Urban Impact.

“Most small businesses are going through tough times,” Milen said. “Even though we feel very fortunate that we got the grant, we would be equally excited if our neighbor[ing] businesses got the grant as well.”

She also hopes to be able to keep the restaurant’s prices as affordable as possible in order to serve her community the best way she can. 

Alyssa echoed a similar sentiment about Piroshki on 3rd. Seattle’s Downtown Core, where you can find her business, has been hit especially hard by the effects of the pandemic with rising costs and less foot traffic. 

“Normal, everyday problems like equipment breaking down can throw us off balance,” Alyssa said. “Receiving this grant will allow us some wiggle room to invest and take more calculated risks, rather than just surviving.”

Click here to check out all of the Comcast RISE grant recipients in King and Pierce counties where you can #SpendLikeItMatters!

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