Earlier this year—at the height of the ongoing pandemic—the number of active business owners in the United states fell by an average of 22% from February to April. Black-owned businesses, which experienced a 41% drop in business ownership, were hit the hardest.
In April, the Visa Foundation committed to providing $ 210 million in Covid-19 emergency loans to these small businesses. Today, in partnership with the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute, it announced the launch of $ 4.8 million in funding and new initiatives to double down on ensuring women- and Black-owned businesses have access to capital and mentorship beyond this unprecedented year, in addition to a white paper detailing how analyzing the country’s economic history can help in supporting the road to equity.
The commitment includes allocating $ 3 million to Black Ambition, Pharrell Williams’ accelerator for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs, $ 1.5 million to Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and $ 300,000 to VC Include, an organization that supports women impact fund managers.
“The capital gap for entrepreneurs of color must be closed if we are to achieve inclusive economic growth for everyone, everywhere,” Graham Macmillan, president of the Visa Foundation, said in a press release.
Visa also partnered with Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree Bridge for Billions to launch a three-month employee mentorship program beginning in February 2021, where Visa employees will mentor Black, primarily women-owned small businesses in ways such as reviewing their business model and defining their financial projections. Earlier this year, Visa partnered with IFundWomen to award $ 10,000 grants to Black women-owned small businesses and IFundWomen coaching.
“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,” says Macmillan. “These grants represent just the beginning of our commitment to allocate capital, both grants and investments, to gender and racially-diverse investors and entrepreneurs.”