Battered Businesses Tap Into Crowdfunding

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FERGUSON, Mo.—Juanita Morris watched on TV at home as her clothing shop burned to the ground during a night of violent protests and looting here in November.

“Twenty-eight years of business in front of you, like a drowning person, and you can’t save him,” she said.

The 69-year-old Ms. Morris initially struggled to find funds to rebuild her Fashions R Boutique. But a college student from a nearby city telephoned her within days after the fire to talk about the possibility of her using social networking to raise money, a process known as crowdfunding.

The student called twice more before Ms. Morris agreed to the plan. Then, he and two friends set up a profile page on the crowdfunding website Go Fund Me, to eventually raise more than $20,000 to help reconstruct her store.

At least 26 Ferguson area businesses claiming damage from the unrest that followed last year’s fatal police shooting here of an unarmed black teenager have raised a combined $447,198 on Go Fund Me. The average amount raised on the San Diego-based service by businesses’ campaigns related to the unrest was about $17,000, according to tallies posted online. To read full article, click

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