Siya Brown and Tatiana Ponce are givers.

With professions that delve into both full-time non-profit work and hospitality, that shared characteristic isn’t too big of a surprise. 

As the pandemic continues to have a grasp on the last few months of the year, travelling, events, large celebrations and more have become nostalgic luxuries. 

Before the spread of the coronavirus, best friends Brown and Ponce attended networking events and conferences, meeting a slew of entrepreneurs, artists, and other creators along the way. 

In January, the 28-year-olds combined their compassion for people and providing opportunities by co-creating and throwing a large networking function — The Mad Love Tour.

It was event “created to highlight the success and achievements of creatives, influencers, and entrepreneurs from all across the country.”

Tatiana Ponce (left) and Siya Brown (right) co-created “The Mad Love Tour,” a networking event that gathered over 200 creatives from 17 different states to come together in Philadelphia in January 2020. (Photo: Submitted)

The York High and Spring Grove grads wanted to give people of all creative backgrounds a platform to network, especially if some felt unseen and unrecognized in their professions. As black creatives, they stress the importance of sharing and using resources to give back to their communities.

More: Coronavirus stranded York students in Europe. The community raised $11,000 in 10 hours.

The Philadelphia event gathered over 200 people from 17 different states. The duo was already planning for The Mad Love Tour 2021, but months after their successful event, the pandemic settled in.

Their annual appreciation party was postponed, but Brown and Ponce had no intention of putting their mission to give and encourage on hold.

“An extension of who we are is to show love on a large scale,” Ponce said.

Recognizing that the pandemic has been detrimental to many small businesses, the two decided to advocate for them with their “Make Small Business Great Again” campaign.

In July, Brown and Ponce set a goal to raise $5,000 in 55 days so that they could give away five $1,000 “stimulus checks” to small businesses in need across the nation. 

Using the “Make Small Business Great Again” slogan, Brown and Ponce sold shirts and hats, raising their first $1,000 in 24 hours.

More: YoCo Strong Restart Grants prioritizing Black, minority-owned small businesses in York County

Siya Brown (left) and Tatiana Ponce (right) have raised $5,000 through their “Make Small Business Great Again” campaign, so that they can give $1,000 stimulus checks to five small businesses in need. (Photo: Submitted)

The two didn’t stop there. They also implemented a “Pod Marathon,” appearing as guests on five different podcasts in York, Pennsylvania, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Norfolk, Virginia to spread the word about their campaign.

Candidates for the small business funds were urged to follow The Mad Love Tour social pages and share their stories. After following the social media pages, they’d need to leave a comment explaining what they’d do with the money and have a business page that shows that their product is “actively making an impact in the lives of others.”

“It’s been [very impacting] to hear their stories,” Brown said.

Brown and Ponce’s deadline lands on Sept. 14, but they were able to raise the entire $5,000 five days in advance. They will announce the winners on Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. through an Instagram live on their Mad Love Tour page.

As a follow-up, they hope to possibly sit down with all of the winners and give them a platform to talk about their businesses.

Jasmine Vaughn-Hall is a reporter in central Pennsylvania. Contact her at [email protected], 717-495-1789 and follow her on Twitter @jvaughn411

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