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American Express pledges $10 million for grants to Black business owners

The financial services company that gave us Small Business Saturday is forming a coalition to grant Black entrepreneurs $5,000 to support them through the current crisis.

American Express pledges $10 million for grants to Black business owners
[Photo: RF._.studio/Pexels]

We know the coronavirus pandemic has affected Black communities disproportionately. That goes for their businesses, too.

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So American Express, in collaboration with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, is making a $10 million commitment to support Black entrepreneurs with a grant program. The “Coalition to Back Black Businesses,” which includes the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the National Business League, the U.S. Black Chambers, and Walker’s Legacy will work together to support small business recovery in the U.S. over the next four years.

Amex initially announced its commitment in June and is now rolling out eligibility requirements and applications. According to Amex, applications for $5,000 grants are open now through September 21. Requirements include:

  • Must be a Black small business owner with between 3-20 employees.
  • Your business must be in an economically vulnerable community. This is defined as being located outside of the 20% most prosperous zip codes in the U.S. as ranked by the Distressed Communities Index.
  • Must have been negatively impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Coalition will randomly select 280 applicants who meet the requirements. Additional applicants may be chosen for a wait list,” according to a statement from Amex. Special consideration will be given to women-owned businesses, which Amex says will be up to 25% of the grantees. Those businesses that win the grants will also receive mentorship from the coalition.

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About the author

Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.

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