Written by Dave Clark, CEO, Amazon Worldwide Consumer
Amazon’s new Black Business Accelerator provides access to capital, business guidance, mentorship, and marketing support to help Black business owners succeed as sellers in Amazon’s store.
Amazon is launching the Black Business Accelerator (BBA) to help build sustainable equity and growth for Black-owned businesses. The initiative—which explicitly targets barriers to access, opportunity, and advancement created by systemic racism across America—was created in partnership with our Black Employee Network and a coalition of strategic partners.
The BBA aims to drive economic equity for Black entrepreneurs, providing them with resources to thrive as entrepreneurs and business leaders. We are inviting Black business owners to explore and participate in this initiative, which provides financial support, business education and mentorship, and marketing and promotion of their brands and products as third-party sellers in our store.
Black entrepreneurs have less access to capital, mentorship, and growth opportunities. They are also significantly underrepresented in retail. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 6% of U.S. retail businesses have a Black owner—even though Black Americans represent 14% of the U.S. adult population.
Black-owned businesses have also been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the U.S. House Small Business Committee. This is why we are committing $150 million over the next four years to help thousands of Black entrepreneurs reach hundreds of millions of customers and become successful sellers on Amazon. Third-party sellers on Amazon—almost all of whom are small and medium-sized businesses—represent nearly 60% of product sales in our store and saw record sales growth in 2020. We would like more Black-owned businesses to enjoy this success.
Amazon’s BBA will provide access to financial assistance, strategic business guidance and mentorship, and marketing and promotional support to help both current and aspiring Black small business owners grow their businesses and maximize the opportunities of selling on Amazon.
- Financial assistance: BBA participants can access services and grants to help jump-start business growth and customer acquisition. Opportunities include Amazon credits and services valued at $3,900 that include free product imaging services and advertising credits. In addition, multiple teams across Amazon and our cloud computing division Amazon Web Services (AWS) are also excited to help fund 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. Additional details can be found at hialice.co/amazon.
- Business education & mentorship: Participants can access a minimum of one year of free strategic advisory services to get the coaching, training, and insights needed to take their business to the next level. They can also connect with a dedicated network of business mentors, including Amazon experts and small business thought leaders, to continue to accelerate business growth.
- Marketing & promotion: In the highly competitive retail space, it can be difficult for customers to find and shop products from Black-owned brands even though customers increasingly value shopping from diverse businesses. Through initiatives like the Black-owned business storefronts for both consumers and Amazon Business customers and promotions featuring Black-owned businesses, customers can find products from these businesses throughout the shopping experience. Amazon also recently launched discoverability enhancements that highlight products from minority-owned businesses in related search results, allowing customers to easily find and buy from certified businesses.
We’re proud to have strategic partners collaborate with us on this initiative, including the Minority Business Development Agency and the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC). These organizations will lead community engagement for BBA and help us provide participants with mentorship, business development, training, and educational resources to empower their success. Our partners will continue to advise us as we enhance BBA based on their deep experience in supporting Black businesses. They will also help us as we create similar programs for other underrepresented populations of business owners. We anticipate welcoming additional partners and advisors in the future.
Ron Busby Sr., president and CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., said, “We applaud Amazon’s leadership in responding to the racial inequities that led to a significant number of Black-owned businesses closing during the pandemic. The financial, educational, and mentoring resources Amazon will invest through the Black Business Accelerator will enable USBC-affiliated businesses and Black entrepreneurs to not only survive but thrive as they adapt to operating in a post-pandemic world.”
BBA and selling on Amazon unlocks a powerful and proven economic engine that enables entrepreneurs to build their brands and sell their products to our more than 300 million global customers. We know that customers value the wide selection and diversity of products offered by these businesses, and we are excited to see the offerings these new sellers will bring.
Over the last few months, we’ve piloted BBA’s benefits with some of the Black-owned businesses already selling in our store to better understand how we can most effectively support them, and we have applied our learnings to further develop BBA and ensure it provides value. Here’s what some pilot participants had to say about the program and selling on Amazon:
“Amazon provides an opportunity where everyone is welcome, and the door is open. We gained access to a huge customer base that provided the opportunity to offer our innovative products directly to millions of potential customers. We have depended on honest reviews and feedback from customers to improve, learn more about what our customers like, further innovate, and grow the business.”
Toyin Kolawole, CEO, Iya Foods
“Since enrolling in the Black Business Accelerator pilot, I’ve been able to enhance my listings with strategic optimization, imaging services, and building brand awareness using their advertising tools.”
Karen Blackwell, founder and CEO, Kanda Chocolates
“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.”
Rodney Marshall, founder and CEO, Aldevra01 / 03
We are thrilled to embark on this journey to welcome many more Black business owners to the opportunities of selling on Amazon. We are optimistic about the potential to help them generate wealth for themselves, their employees, and their communities. To learn more about participating in the program, visit sell.amazon.com/bba.