American Express has announced a four-year, $10 million initiative to help Black-owned small businesses recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A collaboration between American Express and the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the National Business League, U.S. Black Chambers, and Walker's Legacy, the Coalition to Back Black Businesses will provide grants, training, and other resources to Black-owned small businesses in distressed communities that have been bypassed by economic growth and opportunity. To that end, the initiative will award grants of $5,000 each to two hundred and eighty businesses a year — at least a quarter of which will be women-owned enterprises — and will invite grantees to participate in a mentoring program aimed at further growing their businesses. Eligible Black-owned enterprises that employ between three and twenty people and are located in neighborhoods on the Distressed Communities Index are eligible to submit to a preliminary online screening through September 21.
"Small businesses play a crucial role in our communities, and when the pandemic hit, Black-owned small businesses were hit the hardest," said Anré Williams, group president of Global Merchant & Network Services at American Express. "The coalition [will] provide eligible Black-owned small businesses with much-needed capital to help recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic and help them rebuild their businesses."
"This is going to create opportunity and in fact level the playing field for many of our members," said National Black Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Harry C. Alford. "Access to capital has always been the missing link in regard to small business growth — we are now about to address that."
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