As an African American woman and business owner, my heart aches and rejoices for the civil discourse currently happening around the world and in our backyards — right here in America. As we vocalize what has been silenced for years, we’re also addressing the systematic injustices that are so deeply rooted in our culture, our workplaces, and our communities. We are not just talking about the in-your-face racism. We’re talking about the turned heads and sealed lips that see it happening yet choose to look away.
According to The Center of Responsible Lending, as many businesses receive COVID-19 relief for business hardships through the CARES Act, an estimated 90% of black-owned firms were either ineligible for the money or denied loans. Additionally, a recent study noted by Forbes states that only 3% of all venture capital is going to female-led companies, and women of color get less than 1% each year.
Even in the midst of heartbreak, I also see the power of humankind collectively standing to speak up. Organizations like PayPal, Lowe’s, Netflix, and Facebook are speaking up and standing firm for social injustice for blacks and minorities.
A part of this begins with supporting the minority entrepreneurs that are often overlooked for opportunities. To assist with bringing some of the latest resources to the forefront, we’ve compiled a list of grants that are specifically designed to provide funding for minority freelance business owners.
There can only be a change when we join forces together and move in the same direction.
Current business grants for minorities:
1. Lowe’s commits $25 million to fund grants for minority small business owners.
Last month, the Lowe’s organization announced its plan to support black and minority businesses with $25 million in grant funding. According to a recent release from Lowe’s, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the nation’s largest community development organization, will manage the process of vetting applications for grants.
Like the PPP loans (Paycheck Protection Program loans), the grants are intended to provide emergency assistance for businesses in need due to COVID-19. Eligible expenses include:
- Paying rent and utilities
- Meeting payroll
- Paying outstanding debt to vendors
- Upgrading technology infrastructure
- Other immediate operational costs
The first round of submissions for the Lowes Grant concluded on June 17, but be sure to stay connected to this program for future time frames for application submissions, should they arise.
2. Poise provides support to women entrepreneurs through their Bounce Back Grant.
Poise is awarding $15,000 grants to 30 female entrepreneurs that experienced financial difficulties within their businesses. As of this writing, 10 grants have already been filled.
The business owner must be a for-profit women-owned business and have a strong connection to motherhood while employing less than 500 people.
The deadline for the Poise Bounce Back Grant is June 30.
3. Glossier commits $1 million to fight racial injustice and support black women-owned businesses.
In direct response to the civil injustices within the United States, Glossier is dedicating $1 million to combat racism, and $500,000 of those funds will be used as grants to black women-owned beauty businesses. Grants will range from $10,000-$30,000 per awarded company, and the criteria are all about your business — not your financial woes as a business owner.
The deadline to apply for the Glossier grant is July 3, 2020.
4. The Shade of Literary Arts creates the Queer Writers of Color Relief Fund.
In response to the financial challenges of COVID-19, the founder of Shade Literary Arts, Luther Hughes, launched the Queer Writers of Color Relief Fund through GoFund Me. The campaign has raised over $31,000 to date and has disbursed funds to more than 100 queer writers of color.
Donations are still welcome for the initiative, and there is no deadline mentioned for grant requests. Simply email the organization at email@example.com.
5. WeWork offers grants for black-owned businesses.
WeWork commits to investing $2 million directly to current members that are black-owned businesses. In addition to being an active WeWork member, eligibility requirements also include:
- Be an active WeWork Member who joined on or before May 31, 2020
- Be owned and/or founded by an individual who self-identifies as black
- Have its headquarters located in the United States
- Employ 500 or fewer W-2 based employees
- Have been in continuous operation for at least one year
The deadline for the WeWork Grants for Black-Owned Businesses is June 30, 2020.
Consider additional resources for award recognition for your business.
In addition to grants, there are also new opportunities for showcasing the quality of your work in your industry. For example, for minority podcasters, many are overlooked for larger awards. To combat this concern, the Black Podcasting Awards (BPA) created a platform to celebrate great podcast content from minority podcasters.
On June 15, the Black Podcasting Awards (BPA) invited black podcasters worldwide to apply for recognition in one to three of its 20 different categories for podcasting. The various categories include Most Informative Black News Podcast, Best Comedy Podcast, Most Black Girl Magic Podcast, Best Black Mental Wellness Podcast, Best LGBTQ Podcast, and Black Podcast of the Year. Creators can submit their podcasts for consideration to the Black Podcasting Awards now through July 31, 2020.
Within the podcasting industry, Spotify is also opening doors for supporting great podcasts created by women of color. The Sound Up Program is a training program for current and aspiring podcasters by way of an intensive eight-week virtual workshop. Course topics include the art of creation, from ideation to storytelling, editing, producing, and more. The best part of this: It’s completely free. Once accepted into the program, students must commit to full attendance of all the virtual workshops, which can equate to a time commitment of approximately 8-10 hours. The application deadline for the Spotify Sound Up Program is June 25, 2020.
If you are on the technology side, another fantastic opportunity is through the Google for Startups Accelerator Program. If you are a black founder, you can apply to be a part of Google’s three-month digital accelerator program that’s geared toward fostering innovation within the technology industry. Ideal participants must live in the United States and have less than 10 employees. If this is something that interests you, don’t wait to submit your application. The deadline for the Google for Startups Accelerator Program is June 30, 2020.
If you are not a minority freelancer or business owner but desire to show support — do it through action. Speak up when you see or hear something that enhances the problem or simply support a black-owned or women-owned business.
Notable location-specific opportunities, within the United States:
- Oakland County to Provide $35 million to Help Minority-Owned Businesses
- San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce to Help Local Small Businesses
- Back to Business Mississippi Grant Program
Additional resources for supporting black-owned businesses that would appreciate your patronage:
- The Nile List: If you love a more modern feel, this directory highlights black-owned businesses with a more culturally eclectic, chic vibe. Beyond the directory, you can sign up for newsletters and engage with other community users.
- We Buy Black: This website is dedicated to highlighting black-owned businesses throughout a global online marketplace.
- The Official Black Wall Street: This is one of the largest black business discovery platforms for services or products.
- Eat Okra: Are you hungry and wanting to find a black-owned restaurant near you (that delivers)? Use Eat Okra. If you know of a business that’s not on the directory, don’t be afraid to reach out to let them know.
- Five Fifths: Five Fifths is a curated list of black-owned businesses within various categories. Their goal is to uplift and highlight the many great things being done by members of communities that are often systematically overlooked.