Exclusive: Amazon Commits $150 Million to Help Small Black Businesses Thrive
Updated: Jun 15, 2021
The company launched the Black Business Accelerator (BBA) today and will provide access to financial assistance through grants, business education and mentorship, and marketing and promotion, to assist both current and aspiring Black small business owners with growing their businesses and maximizing selling opportunities on Amazon.
According to an exclusive interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE, the largest online retailer in the world is committing $150 million over the next four years to lend a hand to Black entrepreneurs, while providing tools for them to become successful Amazon sellers.
“I’m proud to be an active member and now advisor for our Black Employee Network (BEN) which works to support Black employees as well as embrace diversity, equity and inclusion as valuable assets that strengthens the bonds and capabilities of Amazon,” Lorenzo Patton, VP, Amazon Finance, told BLACK ENTERPRISE.
“Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator began as an idea from a BEN leader who works directly with sellers every day and saw an opportunity to help spur growth, advance equity, and drive success for Black selling partners,” he said.
Amazon said that the commitment is tied to Black-owned businesses being disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the U.S. House Small Business Committee. Additionally, the initiative which is intended to target barriers to access, opportunity, and advancement created by systemic racism across America was created through a partnership with Amazon’s coalition of strategic partners, in addition to the company’s Black Employee Network. According to Amazon’s website, the Black Employee Network’s (BEN’s) mission is to recruit, retain, and empower Black employees. BEN has also connected with engaging with organizations, Historically Black Colleges and Universities and a team who launched a black haircare store called Textures & Hues on Amazon.
Amazon also informed BLACK ENTERPRISE that third-party sellers on Amazon mostly comprised of small and medium-sized businesses. They represent almost 60% of product sales in their store and record sales growth was achieved in 2020. The company stated that that it would like additional Black-owned businesses to enjoy this kind of success.
One key BBA participation benefit would involve gaining access to services and grants, such as Amazon credits and services which are valued at $3,900. This includes free product imaging services and advertising credits.
“We are also excited to offer an initial round of $10,000 cash grants in partnership with Hello Alice, an organization dedicated to helping entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses. Applications for these grants will open on July 1, 2021, and be awarded on September 2, 2021,” Amazon representatives also informed.
“Through this program, we have a partner who has helped us better understand how to use Amazon’s tools and analytics to expand our sales and help me connect with business customers,” Marshall said on Amazon’s blog.