Story at a glance

  • Black communities and businesses have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Coalition to Back Black Business is offering $5,000 grants for eligible Black-owned small businesses.
  • American Express has committed $10 million over the next four years to fund the program.

American Express is committing $10 million over the next four years to fund the newly-formed Coalition to Back Black Business, providing grants to Black-owned small businesses to help recover from the coronavirus pandemic –– which has disproportionately impacted Black communities

And while Black business owners saw an influx of support after protests against police brutality and racism began in June, they've also faced backlash.  

“Black entrepreneurs have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, coupled with historic levels of Black business closures and unemployment,” said Ron Busby, president of the U.S. Black Chambers, in a statement. 


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The Coalition to Back Black Business is a collaboration between the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., National Business League, National Black Chamber of Commerce and Walker’s Legacy in partnership with American Express and the Chamber of Commerce.

“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, the group president for Global Merchant & Network Services at American Express. “The Coalition is aimed to 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.”


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Black small business owners with three to 20 employees are eligible if they are in an economically vulnerable community, outside of the 20 percent most prosperous zip codes in the United States, and have been negatively impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. At least 25 percent of the awarded grants will go to women-owned businesses, according to a release.

“This is going to create opportunity and in fact level the playing field for many of our members,” said Harry C. Alford, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, in a statement. “Access to capital has always been the missing link in regard to small business growth – we are now about to address that.”

In addition to the $5,000, winners will have access to a mentorship program and online resources, according to the coalition's website. And next summer, 5 percent of the "most promising" grantees will receive an additional $25,000.

The deadline for applications is Sept. 21, after which the coalition will randomly select 280 applicants who meet the requirements to complete a more in-depth application before receiving a $5,000 grant.


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Published on Sep 16, 2020