The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has named Arubah Emotional Health Services, P.A. the 2019 Minnesota Minority Owned Small Business of the Year.
Anissa Keyes founded Arubah (which means “restoration to sound health” in Hebrew) in 2012 to help make mental health services accessible — especially for the African American and low-income communities in and around North Minneapolis.
Mental health disparities for communities of color are no secret. While everyone is at risk for mental illness and related disorders, Blacks and other communities of color often remain on the sidelines when it comes to accessing treatment that speaks to their needs.
With four locations in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Brooklyn Center, Arubah provides therapeutic services to adults, families, couples, and children, including diagnosing, treatment planning, consulting and advocacy, as well as ongoing care.
“At the SBA we work hard every day to support diversity in small business and to honor the efforts of minority entrepreneurs,” said Nancy Libersky, district director for the SBA in Minnesota in a statement. “Arubah Emotional Health Services is filling a vital role in North Minneapolis and we’re proud to be a part of helping the company succeed in business so it can do more to help the community it serves.”
In 2017, Arubah received an SBA-backed loan from Community Reinvestment Fund (CRF), which nominated Keyes for the award. This funding helped Keyes open her fourth location, the Healing Center, to bring accessible trauma-informed mental health services to the community.
“The impact Arubah Emotional Health Services has frankly cannot be measured by the number of clients it serves or people it employs,” said CRF Regional Director of Business Development Jennifer Ericson in a recent statement. “Every person who comes in contact with the business and Anissa cannot help but walk away feeling more hopeful. She puts out healing into her community and these small ripples will continue changing lives long after a patient leaves their program.”
Even with more than 25 years of social services experience, Keyes continues to seek out ways to improve her own skills sets. As such, she also participated in the SBA Emerging Leaders Program in 2018 to help her better understand her finances and higher-level business strategy.
“There are so many other community members and so many other people that God called alongside me to create this amazing journey,” said Keyes. “The biggest thing that this award gives me is the ability and credibility to be able to do more of the work,” she said.
“It puts me into other arenas to be able to pull other small businesses up and support and lead other people in the right direction.”
She also shared that, as a Black woman from North Minneapolis, it feels good to be recognized in platforms that typically don’t feature people of color. “You work so hard as small businesses and we pour all of who we are into it and when people are able to see that it is important work that is impacting or influencing those around us for the better and acknowledge it, it motivates you to push forward even more,” said Keyes.
Arubah and Keyes was honored at the state’s Small Business Week Awards Luncheon with other small businesses, on May 10 at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest in Brooklyn Park, Minn.
The luncheon is part of 2019 National Small Business Week, May 5-11, which is dedicated to honoring small business owners and their champions across the nation.
For more information on Small Business Week, visit www.sba.gov/NSBW.
This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.