For the fifth consecutive year, the New York Knicks and Squarespace hosted the Make It Awards, which support and celebrate the small, local businesses and entrepreneurs that help New York City thrive.
Hosted at Madison Square Garden, the Make It Awards honors four winners, presenting them with a $30,000 grant to further expand their mission.
This year’s winners include Adapt Ability, a Brooklyn nonprofit that provides custom adaptive bicycles for children with special needs; Harlem Pilates, which helps make health and wellness accessible to diverse communities; Legally BLK Fund, dedicated to supporting aspiring Black women attorneys by providing them with various resources; and COVERR, a Queens-based business that provides financial services that are customized for the gig economy, empowering workers to reach their highest earning potential.
Based in Long Island City, COVERR offers workers a better alternative to a credit card or loan by eliminating traditional barriers.
Kobina Ansah, the company’s founder, said that COVERR started out by him passing out flyers and interviewing Uber/Lyft drivers in Queens, which has grown significantly since.
“It really started out with finding out initially that Uber drivers in New York often pay somewhere between $350 to $500 plus dollars per week to rent the car that they’ll never actually own,” Ansah said.
“It became very clear to me that more than auto finance, liquidity or just cash management was a bigger challenge for Uber drivers, and shortly after, that started providing our business financing and people started getting inquiries from other parts of the gig economy.”
Ansah said that coming from a family of Ghanaian immigrants, he knows what it’s like to be part of an underrepresented community, which is why COVERR’s mission is so important to him.
He said that when he previously worked at Wells Fargo, he did not get to support a lot of people who look like him, and is grateful to now be able to provide services to underserved market segments.
“That’s what compelled me to start to focus on people who worked in emerging markets like the gig economy, which happens to be one of the fastest growing labor segments,” he said. “It happens to be represented by over 50 percent of those who work in the U.S. economy currently are members of the BIPOC community.”
Ansah said he was stunned to have been recognized in the Make It Awards, especially upon discovering that 750 other businesses applied.
He added that with the $30,000 grant, COVERR will use the funds to help further automate the underwriting practice, which will speed up the application process for clients, creating a job board to create greater resources for all clients and research and development.
“Being in a city as vibrant as New York, I knew the competitive landscape was huge And so I feel very fortunate to be selected,” Ansah said. “Honestly, it’s an affirmation of the hard work that we do, and the importance of the work that we’re doing.”