Austin native's grant shines light on Black-owned businesses

Reesheda Graham Washington's $5K Livisible grants went to Forty Acres Market in Austin, Kisakidcare in Oak Park

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By Michael Romain


Kisa Marx, owner of Kisakidcare Home Day Care, which she runs out of her Oak Park home, has operated her business for 11 years and for all 11 years, she's been renting, which has left her at the whims of landlords. 

"We've moved several times because a landlord moved out of state or something had to be done to their house, because they had to sell it," Marx said in a recent interview. "So we don't want to be renters, anymore." 

Marx and her husband came a step closer to purchasing their own property to both live in and operate the home daycare business after Kisakidcare was selected as one of two recipients of a $5,000 grant created by Austin native Reesheda Graham Washington, the owner of Live Cafe and RGW Consulting in Oak Park. 

The grants are the result of Washington's Livisible initiative, which she created "to support Black-owned small businesses in Oak Park and Austin and connect them with information, resources and community support," according to a statement. 

The School of Rock pledged $5,000 in matching funds toward the grants and community members also donated funds. 

For Liz Abunaw, the owner/operator of Forty Acres Fresh Market, an Austin-based business that delivers fresh fruits and vegetables to customers throughout the West Side and west suburbs, the grant will help her fund a brick-and-mortar grocery store in Austin. 

"We're still a ways from opening, but every dollar matters," Abunaw said. "The money will go toward helping us acquire a site." 

Abunaw said that while she hopes to build a brick-and-mortar grocery store, 40 Acres Market is more than about food. 

"Yes, I want to turn a profit and I want a sustainable business that employs people and that I can make a living from, but if it was solely about getting food to people we'd never have a store. I'd run this as a nonprofit," she said. 

"But I understand what a grocery store means to a community. I'm not saying a grocery store solves every problem, but it builds community infrastructure. It is social infrastructure. It's a place where people form bonds with neighbors, it increases property values, it enhances neighborhood walkability, it improves health outcomes. It's all these things that come along with it," she said. 

Marx said that she's received Paycheck Protection Program funding, which helped keep her business afloat, but the Livisible grant was altogether different. 

"There are people who are striving and who are growing their businesses who just need a little leeway," Marx said. 

"Grants like this are perfect for us," she added. "We're already out here doing the work and not trying to look for charity and won't take from people who need it more than we do, but this will help us continue to climb and flourish. So I'm thankful we had the opportunity to benefit from something like this."  

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