Center for an Urban Future invites you to their event

Helping Brooklyn's Immigrant- and Minority-Owned Businesses Rebound from the Pandemic

About this event

*If you have trouble accessing the replay of the event, please contact Stephanie at To view the replay of this forum, you can use the link in the same email you used to access the forum originally, or request a new link be sent above.

From Brownsville and Bushwick to Sunset Park and Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn is home to a vibrant mix of immigrant- and minority-owned businesses. Roughly half of all Brooklyn businesses are owned by immigrants, and nearly one-third are minority-owned—including the largest number of Black-owned businesses of any borough. But despite major gains in recent years, these businesses have suffered stunning losses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While some are pivoting quickly to survive, many others have been pushed to the brink, as revenues plunge and government relief remains difficult to access and often insufficient. At the same time, these businesses faced a number of growing challenges even before the crisis, which makes the road to recovery more uncertain.

This solutions-oriented discussion dove into the specific challenges facing Brooklyn's immigrant- and minority-owned businesses and explored what can be done to help these entrepreneurs navigate the crisis and come back strong. The second in a three-part virtual forum series, the live-streamed discussion examined what tools and strategies city and state policymakers, community and business leaders, and business owners and patrons can employ to boost this crucial anchor of the borough's economy.

Speakers included:

  • Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams
  • Senator Roxanne J. Persaud, New York State Senate
  • Aisha Benson, Executive Vice President, TruFund Financial Services
  • Sibté Hassan, Owner, BK Jani
  • Samara Karasyk, Chief Policy Officer & EVP, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
  • Jessie Lee, Managing Director, Renaissance EDC
  • Mary Makfinsky, Senior Vice President, National Sales Manager–Business Banking, HSBC
  • Carol Thomas, Owner, Just Because Salon

Hosted by

  • Guest speaker
    JR G
    Jessie Lee, Renaissance EDC Managing Director

  • Guest speaker
    SB G
    Sibté Hassan, BK Jani Owner @ BK Jani

  • Guest speaker
    AT G
    Aisha Benson, TruFund Financial Services Executive Vice President @ TruFund Financial Services

  • Guest speaker
    CJ G
    Carol Thomas, Just Because Salon Owner @ Just Because Salon

  • Guest speaker
    R. G
    Ray Johnson, HSBC .

  • Guest speaker
    RP G
    Roxanne Persaud

  • Guest speaker
    BE G
    Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams

  • Guest speaker
    M. G
    Mary Makfinsky, HSBC .

  • Guest speaker
    SK G
    Samara Karasyk

Center for an Urban Future

Center for an Urban Future is a catalyst for smart and sustainable policies that reduce inequality, increase economic mobility, and grow the economy in NYC.