By Erin Spencer
Ilana Kruger founded Dripkit in 2017 as a way to bring barista-quality coffee to people everywhere, anytime. The portable pour-over coffees that require just hot water and a cup grew popular quickly, landing the brand key partnerships with cult brands like Stumptown Coffee, Verve Coffee, and the Ace Hotel group. Business was going really well until several weeks ago when the novel coronavirus began to take root in the U.S., and 75% of their wholesale sales came to a screeching halt. Right away, Kruger set to work on applying for federal grants. The process was lengthy and convoluted. Eventually, she’d learn that once her bank had begun accepting applications for the Paycheck Protection Program, the fund had dried up, and their request could not be processed. Fortunately, Kruger heard that Bumble was accepting applications for women-owned small businesses affected by the coronavirus. Kruger opened up the app, answered a few questions via video about how she and her team were being impacted and submitted. Soon after, she got word that she’d been selected for the grant and received $5,000 straight away—money that would be used to help keep the lights on, pay her small but mighty team and to help fund the company’s initiative to match purchases of coffee with donations to healthcare workers on the frontlines.
Kruger is one of many who received funds from Bumble, in the form that was easiest for them, before they were able to secure government relief funding. Initially, Bumble allocated $500,000 to the small business grant program with the plan to distribute 200 grants for up to $5,000 each to businesses in 11 countries. They set out a small task force that would review applications and pushed the initiative live. Beginning March 23, applications were available via all three modes of the Bumble app (Bumble Date, Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz). Bumble users had the opportunity to either request a grant for themselves as a small business owner or nominate a small business in their community. Within the first two weeks, Bumble had received over 20,000 entries.
Quickly, it became clear that they needed more recruits for the task force and set out to train additional employees from teams all across the company to review applications. Enthusiasm for the program grew quickly, and soon volunteers were lining up to help carry the load of the review process. When it came time to review the applications, which the company prioritized right away in the interest of allocating funds quickly, employees were incredibly moved.
“We were overwhelmed and extremely humbled to see the sheer number of people who applied to the community grant program. The economic impact that this pandemic has caused was undeniable,” said Bumble COO Sarah Jones Simmer. Certainly, the applications—which stemmed from businesses all over the world and detailed a wide range of direct impacts as a result of the coronavirus—were varied but had a common thread throughout: selflessness.
Owners, forced to furlough staff, were using their own funds to purchase groceries to ensure their employees could put food on the table. Some business owners who applied for funds were hoping for support because they’d reduced rates so that customers who were struggling financially could still access their essential services. And some applications came from those who ran the only kind of their business in an area—for example, the only bookstore currently serving the entire Bronx area. Because of these moving stories, Bumble employees working on reviewing applications wanted to give as much as they could, and one employee had an idea to help grow the fund.
“We have a COVID-19 task force that worked to get the team set up to work effectively from home. On one of the calls when we were discussing the work from home stipend (up to $500 per employee), a few members flagged that they’d seen friends, family, and their favorite small businesses struggling, and felt like they’d rather find a way to distribute their stipend to those with more urgent needs.
Originally posted on ForbesWomen