A woman-owned California company is aiming to make life easier for multigenerational family businesses
The company, named Hello Alice, offers credit cards and microgrants and to women- and minority-owned small- and medium-sized businesses, as well as a host of other supports to help growing businesses thrive.
Hello Alice awarded more than 1,000 small business grants totaling more than $12 million in 2022.
The top-level metrics tell only part of the story. Perhaps more impressively, 80% of Hello Alice grant recipients in 2022 identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; and a whopping 77% were women and non-binary individuals. About 23% were affiliated in some way with the military, and 16% had some sort of disability.
According to co-founder Elizabeth Gore, this is precisely the kind of diversity and equity Hello Alice was founded to promote.
“As a woman- and minority-owned company, we know how critical it is to open doors and remove barriers for all who come with us on these uncharted paths,” says Gore. “Our mission became an obsession to ensure every entrepreneur has what they need to launch and grow their business.”
Hello Alice offers a bevy of services.
Grants and loans constitute the bulk of the effort; Hello Alice also offers startups a special credit card. Beyond these very practical and day-to-day supports, Gore and co-founder Carolyn Rodz have created an online community, and they offer discounted (and sometimes free) consulting for small- and family-owned businesses on subjects like insurance, legal matters, management and operations.
Two recent areas of focus, for instance, have been helping family-owned business leaders to embrace technology and helping entrepreneurs separate personal and business finances — both nuances with which many struggle.
“Covid has brought historic multigenerational businesses to our platform in droves,” Gore says. “People have to go digital. They have to change. A lot of folks as they take on businesses from their parents and their grandparents are looking at diversifying their cash flow. We help them keep up with legal issues and what’s on trend. We focus on business health.”
Mental health is another area of focus for Gore and Rodz.
Gore says sometimes people who own family businesses tend to be isolated. Hello Alice tries to combat this phenomenon by creating virtual communities so likeminded entrepreneurs can learn from each other.
One example of this: the Black-Owned Business Resource Center, which is in partnership with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Looking forward, Gore says Hello Alice will continue to serve family-owned businesses and other SMBs by expanding services, increasing grant programs and leaning hard into initiatives that explore other ways to support entrepreneurs.
Matt Villano is a freelance writer based in Healdsburg, Calif.