DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Successful people in business know it takes an investment across many facets of time, money, and patience to see an endeavor prosper.
Bringing all three to the table as the CEO and founder of the African American Entrepreneurs Association, Leslie Giscombe is seeing a return on his investments as the nation’s largest lenders step up to ensure the American Dream can be a reality for everyone, including minority business owners.
On Tuesday, TD Charitable Foundation added $50,000 to the AAEA’s Business Relief Program, created after 2022’s Hurricane Ian heavily impacted small business owners across Florida’s east coast.
Accounting service Book Ease, LLC was among the small, home-based businesses who ‘fell through the cracks’ finding a lack of support from both FEMA and SBA, according to owner Linda Flournoy.
“FEMA doesn’t do wind damage and I’m home-based, so not having a store was a problem,” she explained.
“I had over a thousand dollars’ worth of damage. A lot of programs don’t help because we’re at home. Home-based businesses feel invisible. Nobody really sees us but we’re more than 50 percent of the businesses out there and more than 60 percent of us are women.”
As the first recipient of the foundation’s support through the relief program, Flournoy was immensely grateful to find help.
“It was a bill that I wasn’t expecting and he just gave me half of that back,” she said with appreciation.
Being a member of the African American Entrepreneurs Association has helped in a variety of ways. Flournoy says she’s been connected to new clients, networking opportunities, mentoring, and financial opportunities which have inspired her to help other entrepreneurs.
“Leslie has helped me to grow my business so much,” said Flournoy.
Serving customers from the International Speedway Boulevard branch in Daytona Beach, TD Bank Assistant Vice President and Store Manager Davino Edwards connected with the AAEA in 2019 through a colleague in DeLand, and says the business relationship has been beneficial for Edwards when working with the community.
“I immediately saw Leslie’s passion and drive for what he does in the community and just as he said, he’s not just a talker, he’s a doer, and to me that’s super important. Leslie has a proven track record of great results,” said Edwards.
“As an African American branch manager in the community I find a lot of people look to me and come to me for advice. When I can’t find it or give them the advice they want, I have Leslie as a huge resource and that’s important. That’s building a community, a relationship, a foundation for awesome banking in the community.”
On hand for the check presentation at the AAEA’s Daytona Beach office, TD Charitable Foundation Regional Giving Manager for Florida Seth Dreyfuss and TD Bank Vice President and Retail Market Manager for North Coastal Florida David Lepri said it was important to support the relief program because of the quality of services provided by the association to the community.
“We have a saying at TD Bank. We thrive when communities around us thrive and for this to happen, everyone needs to be at the table,” shared Lepri. “We can’t thrive without diversity of thought and diversity of innovation.”
“As a corporate citizen, we take very seriously our responsibility to help our businesses overcome challenges because after all, entrepreneurs are the heartbeat of our economy and a stronghold for our communities. We have a collective responsibility to keep our eyes open to inequities that push communities of color behind the starting line. Providing this type of targeted support is another step in helping to address the challenges and ensure that we help folks move forward and rebuild and thrive,” he said.
Giscombe has been adamant about remaining true to the African American Entrepreneurs Association’s mission and purpose, staying the course.
“I would say this is an example of sticking to your core values and not just values but your vision,” said Giscombe.
Receiving $5,000 in support from TD Bank for the Access to Capital program in 2022, it was a nod of confidence when the TD Bank’s Charitable Foundation made the decision to provide $50,000 in support in 2023 for the Business Relief Program created after Hurricane Ian impacted the community.
“I’m just delighted that one of our banking partners that we’ve been working with, has been growing with us,” said Giscombe.
“The question was, what would the small businesses think, and obviously it’s awesome help and support. When you think about it, there’s no other organization that’s really giving them money right now, there’s nobody helping. My thought was even if we could give them a check that will help with their deductible, that was a help.”