theGrio launches Facebook Watch series covering plight of Black-owned businesses during COVID-19

'Staying In Business' shows how more than 2.5 million Black businesses are fighting to survive a pandemic

Chef Cisse Elhadji poses in Ponty Bistro, one of his two restaurants in Harlem. Elhadji has given away over 1,000 free meals to the community since the coronavirus pandemic hit. (Photo: Natasha S. Alford/theGrio)
theGrio has launched a new digital series for Facebook Watch, highlighting Black-owned businesses and how they are working to survive the coronavirus pandemic. Staying In Businessshowcases how the Black businesses maintain throughout an unprecedented wave of financial despair.

With features and interviews, Staying In Business gives personal insight to the brands whose voices need amplifying by sharing their stories. The first episode debuted April 21, and covers beauty salons and barbershops, investigating how client-based service companies manage through social distancing mandates.

READ MORE: Black barbers must matter for the economy to really recover

I wonder if my clients will forget about me during this time. How will life change after this is over? Will, I still have clients?” asks Canesha Janae Henry, an owner an hairstylist at CJH Brand.

While some beauty shop owners note thousands of dollars in losses at the beginning of March, others have seen an increase in on-demand home services.

I’m not happy about it. They’re stuck in their homes and they cannot go anywhere. And in a lot of them don’t know that my kind of service exists, because a lot of barbers never offer that type of thing,” says Rene Guemps, a professional barber for over 30 years. 

READ MORE: Coronavirus is hitting Black America at a staggering rate

“But now, before I go, I have to make sure I wash my hands, a bunch of time for a bunch of minutes. I gotta put on my N95 mask. I have to Lysol my phone before I leave my house and before I enter somebody’s house and now wear gloves and stuff like that.”

Guemps says he must continue working through the pandemic to support his family because he has no other ways to get money.

Wade Menendez, owner of The W Hair Loft Inc. which provides barber and extension services for men shares although his appointment deposits are typically non-refundable, he’s given customers their money back when requested during this troubling time.

“I’m a compassionate man, and I understand,” Menendez remarks.

Through innovation, however, many Black entrepreneurs have created methods to service their clients without breaking social distancing rules. Still, as Black businesses, the depth of financial cushion only extends so far. Staying In Business notes that only 1 percent of Black businesses are started with loan money, which means they do not have access to credit.

Hope remains on the forefront however as a community is found through emotional and financial support between beauticians, barbers, and clients alike.

Staying In Business is a video series about perseverance in the face of tough times,” says Todd Johnson, chief content officer at theGrio. “We want to shine a light on how Black business owners and entrepreneurs are meeting the challenge of a coronavirus pandemic head-on.”

“Black-owned businesses are under incredible pressure to survive, let alone thrive,” said Natasha S. Alford, VP of digital content and a senior correspondent hosting the series. “With Staying In Business, we are proud to be highlighting the true resilience and innovation of African-American entrepreneurs.”

The series is executive produced by Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker, Haimy Assefa, and is the result of a partnership between theGrio and Facebook Watch, a free and global video destination on Facebook mobile apps across Apple and Android, on desktop, laptop and on Facebook’s TV apps.

Be sure to tune in to the first episode of Staying In Business for the full scope on Black-owned beauty businesses and entrepreneurs making their way through the coronavirus pandemic. Staying In Business is available on theGrio’s Facebook page (

Staying In Business | Episode 1: Beauty

"Will I still have clients?" This is a growing concern among Black-owned beauty salons and barbershops that have been forced to shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. On Episode 1 of "Staying In Business," Black hairstylists and barbers share their fight to keep their businesses alive.

Posted by TheGrio on Tuesday, April 21, 2020