With 30.7 million small businesses in the U.S. accounting for 99.9 percent of all U.S. businesses (SBA, 2019) it is safe to say that small businesses are the heart of North America. If you look around your community small businesses are made up of our neighbors, friends and family, but most important are the pillars of our community. With many small businesses being hit hard by the Covid 19 pandemic Lenovo in partnership with Microsoft, Intel, and the North Carolina Panthers has stepped up and built a campaign that focuses on providing relief to small businesses in North America. We meet with John Bischof on the campaign and how you can participate.
Harry Brelsford 0:07
Hey, SMB Nation. We’re back with Lenovo. One of our periodic check ins with John Bischof. How you doing, John?
John Bischof 0:15
Hey, I’m great. How are you doing?
Harry Brelsford 0:17
Yeah, good. Hey, I have a question. I was like these conversations to be a little chatty. I don’t know the Carolinas very well. Are you with Lenovo? Near Charlotte. I’m looking at a map over here. I don’t know that part of the country very well.
John Bischof 0:33
And we’re well we actually do have some people in Charlotte but Lenovo headquarters is based in Morrisville, which is right outside of Raleigh. In the Raleigh Durham area.
Harry Brelsford 0:44
Okay. All right. Well, let’s get to the let’s get to the main reason we’re talking. We’re talking about a new initiative evolve small in a number of US cities serving underserved communities. I’ll hand it over to you. So what what is this initiative?
John Bischof 1:00
Yeah, I mean, evolve small is about Lenovo is a company being able to reach out and support in this time of pandemic recovery, small businesses across the United States and Canada, that needs some help to recover. So we’re focusing on a multiple fronts, where we will offer grants to various small businesses across and about eight to 10 communities across the country, such as Raleigh, Seattle, Austin being another. And then, as well as offering mentorship opportunities. And other we’ve developed partnerships with Deluxe marketing, for instance, where we have some consultants from Lenovo that going up to the Minneapolis area, offering consulting and technology services to the companies that they’re supporting as part of their television shows small business revolution. These are minority owned businesses trying to recover that need some help with their technology in evolution, so to speak. And then lastly, with the Carolina Panthers, we’ve developed a program with them where we will be giving grants out to small businesses in the Carolinas region. And then one of those businesses will be selected to receive $100,000 advertising fund from the Panthers.
Harry Brelsford 2:29
Yeah, yeah, and this is, in my world, this is big money, you’ve made a million dollar commitment to this initiative. That’s, that I’ll just leave it at that’s real money. So maybe a little bit of the background on that. I mean, that’s, you’re all in.
John Bischof 2:47
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, well, you know, it’s, it’s interesting, you know, because it’s as we do our our investment planning each year, we we have all sorts of opportunities, we can look at whether we’re, you know, helping our brand through whether it’s advertising on the internet, or print, or the like, this was a case where we wanted to take our dollars, and putting them meaningfully to work for small businesses. Our small businesses are part of our daily lives, whether they are the dance studios, our daughters go to that special restaurant we like to go to on special occasions, you know, the the hair salon, where my wife goes to have her hair done. These are all places that are owned by their, you know, they’re not conglomerates, they’re owned by, you know, people like me, and you. And they serve a small part of the community. And it they’re part of our daily lives. And it’s something that it felt special to be able to be able to give back to these kinds of places.
Harry Brelsford 4:03
Yeah, yeah, I agree. And I do know it’s part of your your DNA and has been for some years, you know, just as a point of reference, but Lenovo sponsor Digitunity and not for profit back in March for a roadshow that I orchestrated from Seattle to Austin, Texas, and the whole idea was to gather used hardware, refurbish it and get out now to underserved communities. So when I saw this come out just the other day, I was like, man, we we need to talk. Any other final thoughts. And folks, I’m going to put the press release down below. So you can read the full context. But any other final thoughts on what’s going on here?
John Bischof 4:45
I think it’s something that we are absolutely committed to, you know, as we go forward, it’s not a one year you know, blip because of the pandemic. It is something we’re committed to continuing to do year after year. To be again, it’s about supporting small businesses, helping them thrive and being part of the communities.
Harry Brelsford 5:08
All right,Jjohn, thanks for your time.
John Bischof 5:10
All right, thank you.