Last month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation announced that the Coalition to Back Black Businesses (CBBB) awarded 20 Black-owned small businesses from CBBB’s 2021 grant program an additional $25,000 enhancement grant to support their growth and long-term success. Among the 20 recipients – 45% of which started their business during the pandemic – 80% are women-owned small businesses, and 85% have six or fewer employees.
“Employing nearly half of the U.S. workforce, the strength of small businesses is critical to the prosperity of our communities and our economic recovery,” said Carolyn Cawley, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “We’re committed to supporting the needs of Black small business owners in America through our Coalition to Back Black Businesses and equipping them with tools to thrive.”
Now in its second year, the CBBB initiative was established in September 2020 by the U.S. Chamber Foundation, founding partner American Express, and four leading national Black business organizations – the National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Business League, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., and Walker’s Legacy – to provide immediate financial assistance and mentorship opportunities to help strengthen the Black business community. Since its launch, CBBB has awarded grants to 1,091 Black-owned small businesses in 40 states to help cover essential needs as they navigated the pandemic, from covering rent and payroll expenses to expanding their online presence and marketing efforts.
“We proudly back small businesses because they are the backbone of communities across the country,” said Madge Thomas, head of corporate sustainability and president of the American Express Foundation. “In the second year of this program, we welcome the chance to continue to help Black-owned businesses recover from the pandemic, innovate, and grow.”
According to a survey conducted in January 2022, Black-owned businesses hit record levels of lower sales, with more than half reporting lower sales than in the previous year. Meanwhile, CBBB grantees report being optimistic about the future of their business, with 50% of them experiencing increased revenue in the second half of 2021. After more than two years into the pandemic, reduced consumer traffic, access to capital, and employee availability remain top obstacles to business growth.
“Because of COVID-19, the price of all raw goods has gone up – in some cases, three times as much, and the additional funds helped cover the cost of our raw goods,” said Nekia Hattley, owner of My Daddy’s Recipes in Inglewood. “The $5,000 grant was a blessing; it meant someone saw my dream and believed enough in it and in me to invest capital to aid in my growth. This support encourages me to keep growing, learning, and going.”
Additional funding from ADP, AIG, Altice USA (parent company of Optimum and Suddenlink), Dow, and the S&P Global Foundation, along with programmatic support from Stanley Black & Decker, Shopify, and Firefli, will provide $14 million in grants and other critical resources, like mentorship, to support Black small business owners across the country through 2024.
“The mentorship and coaching support that we have received from the Ureeka platform has been phenomenal. It is unmatched,” said Bupe Mulenga, owner of Stephens Southern Delights in Detroit. “That in and of itself supplied so much encouragement, support, and reassurance that although we dream big, we can definitely achieve what we set out to do.”
Twenty grantees were selected by a panel of judges to receive the $25,000 enhancement grant out of the 491 businesses in CBBB’s 2021 cohort. Businesses are located in cities across the country. The top reasons for requesting an enhancement grant included developing a stronger online presence, relocating to a larger physical space, and hiring additional staff.
“The enhancement grant will support us with crucial costs to propel our growth forward for 2022, including hiring more pilots, investing in SEO marketing, web platform improvements, rent, and more,” said Bronwyn Morgan, owner of Xeo Air in East St. Louis.
Learn more about the winners and how the CBBB program has positively impacted their businesses at webackblackbusinesses.com/recipients-2022. Applications for the fall 2022 cohort will open in August.
For more information on eligibility and the application process, visit webackblackbusinesses.com.