No one knows how many of the 24 million small businesses in the United States have closed, but the number, when tallied, is likely to surpass one million. But some tiny companies have turned a corner and head into 2021 shaken and changed, but alive. Times of E reached out to incubators across the United States, who connected us to entrepreneurs whose companies survived. Ten entrepreneurs shared their stories with us. You can find others in the series at Rest of the US. Thanks to gener8tor, Arlee Community Development Corp., E For All, On Deck and Arrowhead Innovation Network.
The pandemic’s stay-at-home orders and recommendations hit many restaurants hard. And Somerville, Massachusetts-based Koshari Mama, a vegan Egyptian street food company, did not go unscathed.
Among other challenges, founders and mother and daughter Sahar Ahmed and Dina Fahim had to lay off their two, full-time employees and work double time to run their business with only part time help. “Last year was tough,” Ahmed wrote.
But they made it through by pivoting their services to meet the needs of their customers. The two of them began free, contactless delivery, prepared meal kits for families to cook themselves and cut their hours to save some costs.
“All of these adaptations helped pay our bills and stay open,” Sahar wrote. “It was important for us to let people know that we were doing everything possible to keep them safe and to stay open.”
The mother/daughter duo opened the company’s first brick and mortar location in Somerville’s Bow Market at the end of 2019. The women partly credit the location for keeping their doors open.
“Being at Bow Market gave us a standing chance,” Fahim wrote. “ We made it and continue to push through.”
The women also received a Small Business Administration loan and PPP funding.