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A fund aimed at helping some of Wilmington's smallest businesses as they struggle to recover from months of closures to the coronavirus pandemic is half-way towards getting a massive matching donation.

The Wilmington STRONG Small Business Fund will get a matching donation from Barclays if it can raise $100,000. The public-private partnership gives $1,000 micro-grants to help cafes and shops pay rent or utility bills.

One shop that's already been helped by the fund is the Dominican Cafe, according to Jennifer Cho, head of citizenship/community relations at Barclays.

"[It's] run by Andres Gómez, who emigrated to the US in search of the American dream of owning his own business. He bought this cafe on 4th Street on the west side of Wilmington back in 2001, and it's been open every day since, but he had to close back in March, for the first time, ever due to COVID," she said. "So we want to help small businesses like Andres' who are really hardest hit by the pandemic; we know that they are the heart of our community and really the engines of job growth, so we know that they'll be an important part of rebuilding as we emerge from COVID."

The matching grant is part of Barclays broader community support efforts that aim to provide $125 million to areas and sectors hardest-hit by the  pandemic around the world. Barclays consumer bank sector is headquartered in Wilmington.

"We care about Delaware. We care about Wilmington. It's a important community for us...so we wanted to make sure that we were really supporting the small businesses in and around the city post-pandemic. We've never seen anything like how COVID-19 has impacted a lot of the communities, and so we know that it is really important for them to be able to rebuild and providing some of this kind of small support to help them with their rent and utility bills was kind of a first step to making sure they stayed afloat during this time."

Barclays said the fund is aimed at supporting businesses that have less than $1 million in revenue and 500 or less employees.

"We're going to be hopefully supporting some of the smallest businesses in Wilmington," she said. "We know a lot of these small minority women-owned  businesses are really struggling and a lot of them are family-owned, immigrant-owned businesses."

Other businesses that have received help from the fund include Joyce Hair Boutique on 2nd Street and Milk & Honey coffee house at North Union and 8th streets.

"We're hoping to get over that line and ultimately raise several hundred thousand dollars above that," she said. "Now we're looking to hopefully raise about $300,000 to support 300 small businesses across the Wilmington area."

Small businesses can apply by clicking here.