Grant keeps San Diego sport fishing afloat

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SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A grant from the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce eases the pain of the pandemic and keeps businesses afloat.

Captain Bill Wilkerson, owner of Malihini Sportfishing, has been fishing since he was of casting age.

Wilkerson said that at the age of seven, he and his grandmother would walk to the bus stop and travel two hours to Venice Beach.

“We used to fish on the pier in Venice from sun to sunset,” he said with a smile.

He said his grandmother was trying to protect him, by getting him out of the LA neighborhood where they lived.

Wilkerson said he had friends in elementary and high school who she knew were in trouble, “I went back 10 or 15 years ago to see if I could locate some of these friends, and most of them. ‘them were gone because of gangs, drugs and stuff. like that. “

He said he would never forget the time she took him to Santa Monica to go fishing. It took another 45 minutes on the bus, but it was worth it, he said. While under the pier, he said he saw a boat stop, let people get off, take others and leave.

He asked his grandmother what they were doing. She said, “Do you want to go fishing on a boat?”

She knew the captain and the following weekend he was hosting Wilkerson. There was no return to fishing on the pier after this trip.

Wilkerson named the captains he worked for over the years and said he was very grateful to Raymond Sobeick, who he said taught him how to fish and opened up the opportunity for him to own a business.

“My dad growing up told me I should work 10 times harder than anyone else, just because of the color of my skin,” he said, pausing. “It’s true.”

He said that was only true when he started his business.

After Wilkerson worked hard, bought the Malihini in 2006 and started his business, he says it wasn’t easy to navigate from there.

“In 2011, I was diagnosed with cancer, a brain tumor … In 2017, the boat hit a whale.”

The accident creating a mountain of debt.

“We started 2020 strong, then COVID-19 came along,” he said.

Wilkerson said they applied for all available grants and loans and got nothing. Then he heard about the Black Business Relief Grant Fund through ABC 10News. He received a grant of $ 1,000 and supported by tools and mentors who guided him in the direction of his business plan.

“They really want to see black, minority and Asian businesses succeed… To me that has been invaluable. I mean, to see that there are doors that can be opened for a guy who owns a fishing boat that doesn’t. can’t get funding because of anything, ”he laughed.

Wilkerson said the grant paid for fuel and parts.

He said they were hoping to secure a loan to complete them in the next few months. He added that his faith has enabled him to overcome many challenges.

“He never let us starve, he always made sure that we had food, water. Our bills, for the most part, were paid,” he said, stifling.

And he knows his hard work will pay off.

If you would like more information about the Black Business Relief Grant Fund, please send an email to [email protected] If you would like to donate to the fund, click here.


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