How Black entrepreneurs are getting a deserved business boost.

The news has been full of reports about the recent protests happening across the U.S. and the world. People of all races and walks of life have joined together to speak out against institutional racism, inequality, and police brutality. 

As the world enters its fourth week of protests, the outpour of unity, commitment, and solidarity has touched us all, giving us reason to hope, feel optimistic, and making us all want to do our part.

If you’ve scrolled through social media lately, you’ve probably noticed the buzz among CEOs, investors, and entrepreneurs all supporting organizations like Black Lives Matter, ACLU, NAACP, and the Equal Justice Initiative.

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It all boils down to one wonderful silver lining – the protests are making a difference.

Here at Bundl, we’re celebrating the impact of the movement by highlighting how it’s empowering black entrepreneurship. These efforts hold the promise of a landscape that is more inclusive, filled to the rim with diversity and offers the same opportunity to anyone who seeks it.

Ready to be inspired? Let’s start things off with a little context.

An unequal playing field.

Here are just a few eye-opening statistics that really shed light on some of the inequities that people of color are currently facing:

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One out of four black families live in poverty, compared to one out of ten white families. – Stanford University

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Unemployment among African Americans is about twice as high as among whites. – Race Forward

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Only 1% of Black-owned businesses receive loans during the first year. That’s seven times lower than white businesses. – Tech Crunch

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Black founders account for only 1% of venture capital funding, of which only 0.2% went to black female founders. – Forbes

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81% of VC firms don’t have a single black investor. – Tech Crunch

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 40% of black-owned businesses and 35% of Latin-owned businesses have closed because of the pandemic. This is much higher compared to only 15% of businesses owned by white people. – Fast Company,

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Of the businesses that survived the pandemic, 21% of black business owners think they might go out of business, compared to 5% of white business owners.

Add to that the many sources reporting how people of color are more likely to suffer from the effects of Covid-19 and the conclusion is clear. It’s time to make some changes.

Here are just some of the ways in which black entrepreneurship is being supported to make that change a reality.

The “hire and wire” startup movement.

As its name implies, the #hireandwire movement follows a simple philosophy: hire more black people and wire more funds to black entrepreneurs. 

The movement basically calls for businesses to invest more intentionally to promote diversity in a more direct and effective way. Here are just some of the companies and entrepreneurs that have joined the movement:

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Web Smith, founder of 2PM

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Work-Bench Investment Firm

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Aihui Ong Investment Partner at XFactor Ventures

Empowering Black Designers.

Resonance Brands recently launched its “Be Resonant” initiative which will enable 10 black designers to build and launch their very own sustainable fashion brands. Each designer will receive $50,000 in cash, products, and services, plus additional assistance to run their operations and marketing. 

The garments will be processed through Resonance’s create.ONE platform. Their technology enables designers to design, sell, and produce as many garments as they need on-demand with minimal waste – quite refreshing in the fashion industry.

All 10 collections will be hitting the market by November of this year and we can’t wait to check them out!

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Supporting black-owned beauty businesses.

Glossier has pledged its support to the African American community by donating $500K to organizations combating racial injustice (e.g.  Black Lives Matter, The NAACP Legal Defense, and Educational Fund, The Equal Justice Initiative, The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, and We The Protesters.

An additional $500K in grants will be donated to various black-owned beauty businesses to support entrepreneurs in the community. 

An inspiring message was shared on the company’s Instagram and Twitter accounts:

“We stand in solidarity with the fight against systematic racism, white supremacy, and the historic oppression of the Black community. Black lives Matter.”

Glossier was also one of the first companies to take monetary action towards the cause. You go, Emily Weiss!

Investing in entrepreneurs of color.

Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank recently announced the launch of its $100 million “Opportunity Growth Fund”. 

According to Business Insider, the fund will be managed by minorities in the tech industry to fund companies led by people of color. The ultimate goal of the fund is to increase diversity in VC backed, tech startups.

As described by COO Marcelo Claure:

“Founders and entrepreneurs of color have so much potential, but they face unfair barriers that white founders don’t face. This is our opportunity to remove those barriers for a new generation of founders.”

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The 15% pledge.

Aurora James (founder of Brother Vellies), started the 15% Pledge to encourage major retailers to buy more from black-owned businesses.

As described by the founder in an article by Bazaar:

“So many of your stores are set up in Black communities. So many of your sponsored posts are seen on Black feeds. This is the least you can do for us. We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space.”

Only a few days have gone by since the petition was made, and the 15% percent pledge’s Instagram page already has 40K supporters on Instagram.

Final thoughts.

It’s easy to get complacent and forget that even in 2020, racial inequality still exists. Possibly keeping some of our greatest minds and most beloved friends from reaching their full potential – in which case we all lose. 

The good news is that things ARE changing. People are speaking out, getting involved, and becoming more united. Just look at some of the responses in this article, and we’re just getting started. Although the protests will eventually cease, their impact will be felt and remembered for years to come. 

The result? A wiser, more inclusive, and more diverse business landscape in which everyone knows that diversity is the key to true excellence and success.

 

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Ritza Suazo

Ritza Suazo

Innovation Journalist