CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — A group of millennial women are donating to small Black-owned businesses during the pandemic in “Operation: Can I Speak To Your Manager.”
Co-founder of the group Ciara Jasso says normally when someone asks for a manager, it’s normally a bad thing. But she said this social media initiative is giving managers hope and putting a positive spin on something normally seen as negative.
The goal of the group is to dine, donate and support small businesses owned by marginalized or under-served communities.
Janet Dimgba, Tamika Vantifflin, Annette Sutcliff, Ebony Jacobs and Ciara Jasso are known as “the girls who give money” and are members of the group. They use the hashtag #thegirlswhogivemoney as a way to track where they have been,
At the beginning of June, the group had an idea to dine and donate at small Black-owned businesses following the death of George Floyd and protests in several states.
“Another business owner said that they’ve really been struggling with quarantine and not being able to have people come in … their regulars. Because everyone is struggling ,” stated Jasso.
For three weeks in a row they gave between $150 – $180 to restaurants in North and South Chicago .
“I had one woman who said we strive to make $100 a day to stay afloat. So this $150 just set us up for a day and a half of not having to worry about that. Somebody else said it restores her faith in humanity,” said Jasso.
They even expanded the initiative to LGBTQ+ owned businesses in the area.
“This is about diversity of all skin tones, nationalities and races,” Jasson said. “We have to give as much as we can to the people who need our voices and need our time. And put money and our investment and show them that we want to help to invest in them because they’re worth it.”
In videos posted on Jasso’s Facebook page and Instagram, she tapes owner’s reactions to her group visiting their businesses. Some cried. Other embraced the woman and thanked them.
In total, the group has raised $4,390 from followers and friends on social media. Jasso said all of the money went directly to more than 20 eateries and they also provide proof of donations.
“We’re all struggling. We’re all looking to see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, that somebody has our back, that somebody believes in us,” said Jasso. “Especially with small business owners … they struggle every single day and until you own a small business. You might not know how difficult it is to retain customers and just stay confident and keep working towards your goals.”
She told NewsNation their movement sparked friends to do that same in Florida, New York, California and Texas.
“All of the companies said, ‘you know it wasn’t the amount that brought me to tears or made me happy. It was the fact that you just took the time out of your busy life to care about someone you never even met,'” said Jasso.
Jasso hopes their movement will go nationwide to show small gestures can have a big impacts.
Now they are gearing up for the next donation. It will be focused on Latino and Hispanic owned businesses in honor of Hispanic heritage month this September.
For more on “Operation Can I Speak To Your Manager,” contact @ciarajasso on Instagram.