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Coalition to Back Black Businesses Awards $1.6 Million in Grants

MBE Magazine Staff
Male and female Black business owners looking at laptop

More than 300 Black small business owners nationwide received grant dollars in third round of funding largely used to support business-growth opportunities.

The Coalition to Back Black Business (CBBB) has awarded $5,000 grants to 324 Black small business owners representing 40 states, District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, delivering on its mission to advance the long-term success and resilience of America’s Black-owned small businesses.

The CBBB is a multi-year initiative founded in 2020 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation with a $10 million commitment from American Express to support Black small business owners and the communities they serve as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and chart a path forward. The initiative is led in partnership with four national Black business organizations: the National Black Chamber of Commerce; the National Business League; the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.; and Walker’s Legacy. This year, the program also received additional support from Cummins, Optimum, and Shopify.

“Strong small businesses make strong communities, and we’re proud of the CBBB’s impact in helping them create jobs and opportunities,” says Carolyn Cawley, president of the U.S. Chamber Foundation. “By combining grants, mentorship and long-term resources, CBBB is helping small business owners create distinction from competitors, better meet customer demand, and stay current on business necessities such as rent, utilities, and payroll. We’re honored to be able to support their growth and resilience, now and in the long-term.”

How CBBB Grantmaking Helps 

When asked how the $5,000 grant helped their businesses, this round of recipients shared that:

  • 56 percent used the funds to invest in new marketing and advertising—at a time when 63 percent report an increase in competition
  • 45 percent expanded or replaced inventory
  • 40 percent paid rent, and another 40 percent paid utilities and other bills
  • 37 percent directed it to payroll
  • 16 percent repaid debts or loans, and
  • 9 percent bought personal protective equipment

Seventy percent of this round of grantees have fewer than five employees and 72 percent have been in business for less than five years, highlighting how CBBB is supporting businesses during their most critical time—the start-up and early-growth phases. Seventy percent of the grantees are women.

CBBB grantee Yvonne Elosiebo is the founder of Bossing Up, Inc., an online wholesale marketplace which builds relationships between Black-owned suppliers and retailers that would otherwise have little opportunity to get their products placed on new stores shelves. “We had a 2022 goal of joining an incubator to get business coaching to help scale for future growth. The grant boosted our current resources to help us transform our website to streamline our customer acquisition process, plus I am really excited about the mentoring resources that come with the grant. This is helping us prepare to take the business to the next level.” 

As in previous years, this group of 324 Black-owned small businesses are eligible to apply for $25,000 enhancement grants, which will be provided in Summer 2023. Enhancement grants have been used by past recipients to improve online presence, purchase new equipment, and expand to a new location. New this year, 150 additional Black business owners will receive coaching through CBBB partner, ZenBusiness, to help grow their businesses.

Trends in CBBB Grantmaking 

To date, the CBBB has awarded more than $8.1 million in grant dollars to 1,414 Black small business owners. Collectively, 65 percent of those are woman owned.

Trends in recent years’ top challenges for Black-owned small businesses spotlight the importance of CBBB grantmaking. In 2021, grantees reported that “reduced consumer traffic” was the top challenge affecting their business—a lingering pandemic effect—while today’s grantees note “access to capital” as the leading concern. This signals a return to historical challenges Black-owned businesses have faced outside of crises such as the pandemic and highlights there may be more disruptions on the horizon as pandemic-era government assistance (e.g., PPP loans) ramps down.

To learn more about the Coalition to Back Black Businesses and its impact on the Black small business community, read the impact report.

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