Facebook has announced that it’s launching new initiatives to support Black entrepreneurs, including $40 million in funding.
The social media company's Black business grant program is part of the $100 million commitment it made in June to help Black communities across the country.
Facebook said the initiative was inspired by feedback from employees as well as people who applied for its $40 million Small Business Grants Program, which is aimed at helping small business owners of all races get through the pandemic.
What Are The New Features?
In its most recent announcement, Facebook revealed two primary ways it’ll be using the platform to help Black businesses during the post-pandemic economy:
1. Discover Black-Owned Businesses
Facebook is making it easier for users to find Black-owned businesses on its platform. Admins that manage a Facebook page for a Black-owned business will now have the option to note their race.
This feature will allow a business to appear in the “Black-owned Businesses” subsection, located in the “Business Nearby” tab on Facebook. The tech giant is also allowing minority-owned businesses to identify their listings, too.
Other tech companies are also making it easier to find Black-owned businesses. In July, Google introduced a new badge to represent those specific businesses, whilst Yelp has been making it easier for customers to search for a Black-owned business.
2. Facebook Grants
Earlier this summer, Facebook committed a total $100 million investment to support Black-owned businesses, creators, and nonprofits in the US. Of that, it’s allocating $40 million in grants to support Black-owned businesses in the US.
Black-owned businesses with up to 50 employees can apply for this grant money, and the company will select 10,000 businesses to award the funds.
Of the 1.1 million Black-owned businesses on Main Street, a huge 41% closed between February and April as the coronavirus pandemic swept across the country. A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that this was twice the failure rate of non-minority businesses.
This is the primary reason why Facebook is providing more help to the Black community – the grant program may be a lifeline to many entrepreneurs.
“Since we opened applications for the program, we have seen a huge amount of interest from Black-owned businesses, so we know they are facing enormous challenges,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a June statement, “When we asked for ideas from employees, many suggested that there was much more we could do to support them.”
Other Facebook Initiatives To Help The Black Community
Over the past few months, Facebook has invested in numerous initiatives to help the Black community during the pandemic. Check out the key takeaways below:
- Supporting Black creators – Facebook’s $25 million grant program will provide support for emerging Black creators with access to funding, education, development resources, and community activities to help them grow their community and build a business across Facebook apps
- Investing more funding for Black suppliers – Facebook has pledged to spend at least $100 million annually with Black-owned suppliers
- Providing 100,000 scholarships – These will be available to Black students working toward digital skills certifications through the Facebook Blueprint program
- Releasing the ‘Lift Black Voices’ platform – A new space in the Facebook app called Lift Black Voices highlights stories from Black people, shares educational resources, and inspires people to take action through fundraising for racial justice causes.
Whilst these initiatives are fantastic, many have criticized Mark Zuckerburg’s hypocrisy in light of the announcements for not removing President Trump’s racially charged Facebook posts. This begs the question: is it possible to lift up the Black community whilst allowing politicians to drag it back down?