SABER awards for 159 hair care and barbershop businesses

They will receive a total of $795,000 from the relief program

barbershop - El Sol Latino

The pandemic created tremendous challenges for these businesses. Photo: Pavel Danilyuk/Pexels

The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO) announced that 159 hair care businesses were recently selected to receive a total of $795,000 from the Salon and Barbershop Emergency Relief Program (SABER).

According to, the program aims to provide financial relief to businesses in the hair care industry that were affected by the City’s pandemic-related restrictions last year.

“As close-contact businesses, those in the hair care industry were among the last to reopen due to restrictions enacted to stop the spread of the virus,” said Mitchell Little, Executive Director of CEO.

The businesses were selected from a pool that had already applied for grants with the City’s COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund and with the Commonwealth-funded COVID-19 Relief Pennsylvania Statewide Small Business Assistance program.

In order to be eligible, barbershop businesses had to be located in one of 17 priority zip codes with the highest poverty rates. Of the ones that were selected, 99 percent are minority-owned and 60 percent are women-owned. Each will receive a one-time $5,000 grant.

Businesses approved for grants may use the funds for any business-related expense, including overhead, inventory, staff, and debt.

“The industry is also largely made up of minority- and women-owned businesses, which are historically underserved and vital to the success of our neighborhood commercial corridors. It is important that we support these businesses as we continue to work toward an equitable recovery,” Little said.

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The barbershop grants were distributed in partnership with the Philadelphia Department of Commerce, VestedIn, and Entrepreneur Works, and funded by Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) CARES Act Supplemental Award dollars.

Barbershop businesses are pillars

“Small businesses like barbershops and salons are pillars of their communities,” said Michael Rashid, Philadelphia Commerce Director. “The pandemic created tremendous challenges for these businesses that provide in-person services, especially the many minority-owned and women-owned businesses in the hair care industry. This funding will provide direct support to more than 150 businesses across Philadelphia so they can recover and rebuild.”

The SABER program is unrelated to the grant program for hair care professionals announced by the Commonwealth in August. A full list of SABER grant recipients can be found here.


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