The Visa Foundation has announced commitments totaling $4.8 million in support of minority-led small and micro businesses.
The commitments include $3 million to Black Ambition, a new racial equity and entrepreneurship initiative launched by producer and entrepreneur Pharrell Williams in partnership with five historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs); $1.5 million to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to help boost small business resiliency for women entrepreneurs of color directly impacted by COVID-19; and $300,000 to VC Include, a women-of-color-led organization working to accelerate investments into venture capital funds led by Black, Latinx, Indigenous, people of color, and women.
In addition, Visa recently launched a three-month, online mentorship program with Bridge for Billions through which Visa employees will work with Black and primarily women owners of SMBs to review their business models, define their financial projections, and create a growth plan for their ventures. According to a white paper issued by the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute in conjunction with the Visa Foundation's announcement, the number of active Black and African-American-owned businesses fell 41 percent between February and April 2020, compared with 17 percent of white-owned businesses, while women-owned businesses saw a 25 percent drop, compared with 20 percent for male-owned businesses.
"The capital gap for entrepreneurs of color must be closed if we are to achieve inclusive economic growth for everyone, everywhere," said Visa Foundation president Graham Macmillan. "Visa Foundation is privileged to partner with these organizations that are addressing this funding and opportunity gap by helping them to empower women, Black, and Latinx entrepreneurs. These grants represent just the beginning of our commitment to allocate capital, both grants and investments, to gender and racially diverse investors and entrepreneurs."