In an effort to help rebuild businesses affected during recent lootings and COVID-19, two 23-year-olds have made it their mission to help out, all through the giving power of community.
Meet Alexis Akarolo, who is the co-founder of Rebuild The Block.
Rebuild The Block is a nonprofit organization that aims to provide outreach and resources to the community.
It serves as a host, to redistribute wealth and knowledge. Akarolo, who is a Penn State Abington alum, partnered with her former college roommate Zelnnetta Clark, to launch this initiative.
“It originally started as a GoFundMe,” said Akarolo. “And I started because I wasn’t seeing enough conversation around how people were going to help small businesses.”
Akarolo says through divine intervention she felt the ability to, “just do it.”
Soon after, the campaign was quickly noticed, raising over $200,000 by communities in Philly and throughout the East Coast.
Ultimately, they are helping small business owners that have been affected by the struggles in the year 2020. One of the local businesses this nonprofit has helped is Pink Social Strategies, a Philly based event management firm.
“Really it was more of a community effort. People from all over were sharing, people were having their family members who have businesses apply, and I think it just grew organically through the community,” said Akarolo. “My partner and I said ‘we have to be responsible with this.’ Our main focus is helping these businesses, you know bailing them out cause COVID hit hard.”
Akarolo says the looting also played a big factor, destroying many small businesses. “We’re just trying to have peoples back,” she added.
For the month of September, Akarolo says she and her team have implemented some new initiatives to help get the ball rolling for small business owners.
“We currently have what we call ‘Startup September’ going on,” said Akarolo. “We have a raffle at this very moment going on, where we are offering different prizes, just to help energize people to start their businesses.”
Akarolo also states a funding program for small businesses that started up in the past year, who was also hurt as well in the process of 2020.
We want to be able to help people with things like mental health, and educational problems, financial literacy, and housing literacy,” said Akarolo. “Eventually we would like to be that one-stop-shop for people to go to.”