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American Express kickstarts ByBlack with support from Issa Rae

ByBlack is the first national business certification program exclusively for Black-owned businesses. The billion-dollar scheme offers opportunities for young entrepreneurs to expand beyond in-house sales.

Online platforms like Etsy and Instagram have been essential tools for young business owners to independently launch their products and services, but growing a business venture beyond the early stages can be an expensive and tricky process.

In particular, the Black community in America faces a unique set of business ownership challenges due to the country’s history of systemic racism and injustices, such as being disproportionately denied loans and receiving marginalised retail space.

To help these companies gain traction, US Black Chambers Inc. (USBC) created the first national directory of Black-owned businesses. Completely free of charge, the extensive digital platform has provided a way for American entrepreneurs to put their company on the record.

Yesterday, the USBC proudly announced it will be joining forces with financial giant American Express to increase its business support through a new program called ByBlack.

What sparked the initiative?

In a study on consumer habits by American Express, 44 percent of respondents said they actively look for Black-owned businesses, with a further 55 percent saying they would ‘use an official, easy-to-access digital database that certifies a business being Black-owned’.

As a result of this interest, American Express has committed $1 billion to launch ByBlack, which strives to promote equal opportunities by leveraging 250,000 Black-owned businesses across the country.

With new financial backing, the USBC will help Black business moguls get their companies certified, so that customers and other corporations have full confidence when spending with them.

Once certified, entrepreneurs will be assisted with the process of securing long-term contracts and attracting large potential buyers, creating new revenue streams that may have not been accessible before.

ByBlack will also help ventures expand consumer markets and provide them with access to business education and resources. And who better to promote this huge opportunity than the brains and beauty behind HBO’s hit series ‘Insecure’ – Issa Rae?



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A post shared by Issa Rae (@issarae)

Insecure no more

A true advocate for the Black community winning in all areas of life, and having recently started her own skincare line Sienna Naturals, Issa Rae is on a mission to spread the word about ByBlack to help other Black-owned business ventures rocket to success.

She said in a statement: ‘we have only scratched the surface of the collective power of Black businesses, so I am excited to join American Express and the USBC to shine a light on the opportunities ByBlack presents.’

Setting things off, Issa Rae’s beauty company is one of the first businesses to be certified through the program.

How can you get involved?

Time is a precious commodity when running a business, which is why the application process has been made quick and simple for those interested.

Taking just 30 minutes to complete, all that is required is proof of identification, as well as evidence that the business is 51 percent Black-owned and is led by a Black entrepreneur.

An initiative like this is ideal for Black-owned businesses that are looking for a way to expand their consumer markets by connecting with larger, hard-to-reach corporations.

In the same light, it offers aspiring, young Black entrepreneurs who may be thinking about starting a business a support system once they get started. Gen-Z, I’m talking to you!

Black-owned businesses already generate $150 billion annually, so it should come as no surprise that American Express has said that ByBlack has serious potential for expansion in the future.

If you’re US-based and have a business idea brewing, now is the time to take the leap. With hundreds of thousands of companies eligible for the program by the cut-off date of 2024 – in a year or two, one of those could be yours.


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