Donating to organizations that fight racial injustice is not enough, says Mark Mason, the chief financial officer of Citi, which last month announced a $1 billion initiative to close the racial wealth gap.
“It’s more than just philanthropic giving that is necessary to really really have an impact,” Mason said at the Fast Company Innovation Festival today.
In the event on the virtual main stage, Mason called philanthropic donations “critically important,” but said Black communities, Black entrepreneurs, and Black community organizations cannot bridge the gap without business tools, like infusions of capital, opportunities to earn revenue, and access to credit. Mason is the only Black member of Citi’s executive team.
Citi’s three-year program includes $50 million in investment capital for Black entrepreneurs, who currently receive less than 1% of venture capital funding, and $100 million to support minority depository institutions’ growth.
“They reach communities that we don’t necessarily reach ourselves, and that’s an important part of driving the change,” Mason said.
Over half of Citi’s funding will go toward expanding homeownership and affordable housing by minority developers. These commitments will likely pay dividends in many forms. “If we had closed this gap 20 years ago, there’d be another $16 trillion in the economy today,” said Mason. “And if we are able to close the racial wealth gap that exists today, in the next five years to our GDP, [that] would add $5 trillion. Pretty stunning numbers.”