This Is How You Close the Black Entrepreneurship Gap

Vice Media Group and The National Urban League have launched Black+, a new initiative dedicated to supporting Black entrepreneurs.
This Is How You Close the Black Entrepreneurship Gap
Image credit: Vice Media Group and The National Urban League

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Attention aspiring Black entrepreneurs: Vice Media Group and The National Urban League have teamed up to launch Black+, an initiative dedicated to supporting Black-owned businesses and closing the Black entrepreneurship gap. You can apply here for the chance to be one of the 12 businesses that Black+ awards free marketing, creative services, mentorship and business consultation. 

Nadja Bellan-White, Global CMO of VICE Media Group, and Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, explained the program to Entrepreneur and shared why its mission is so vital.

Why is supporting Black entrepreneurs important now and how did this all come together?

Nadja Bellan-White: African-American-owned businesses have always – and still – face undeniable and systematic challenges in building and growing their businesses. Elevating these businesses is something that should always be a priority and even more so now, recognizing the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had, with many struggling to continue their daily operations. We saw this as a vital time to show our continued commitment to our DEI practice not only internally at VICE Media Group, but in the communities that we touch. As such, we reached out to Marc Morial and the National Urban League team to partner with us on this program in an effort to close the racial wealth gap by supporting African-American entrepreneurs.

Related: How Can You Truly Make a Difference for Black History Month?

What are you looking for from small businesses?

Marc Morial: We are looking for small businesses that can really benefit from the opportunity, the mentorship and the consulting expertise we can offer through the program. We hope the initiative will not just help the selected businesses generate sales and income, but also have a positive impact in their community.

A few requirements we have for the program are that the business must be at least 51% Black-owned; that it’s for-profit and has been operational for more than six months. They must also have a shoppable website and the ability to sell and/or distribute its products and/or services throughout the United States.

What are the top five things you are looking for?  

Nadja Bellan-White: We encourage applicants to explain why they want to be part of the program and how they believe participating in this program will support not only their business but perhaps other entrepreneurs like them. We are looking for companies who are innovative and who are finding unique solutions to problems.

What will winners receive?

Nadja Bellan-White: VICE Media Group and the National Urban League will provide pro-bono marketing, creative services, consulting, mentorship, and business consultation to the 12 selected African-American-owned businesses. VICE Media Group in particular will provide free advertising across its owned and operated websites including VICE, Refinery29 and i-D. Vice Media Group and its creative agency Virtue will also consult with each business on creative services such as, but not limited to, marketing material creation, branding, and social media.

Related: 21 Inspiring Quotes From Black Leaders From Throughout American History

Marc Morial: The National Urban League will use its reach and network of Black-owned businesses to help provide mentorship and consulting for the selected companies. We will also help with the selection processes and structure of the program.

How can people apply?

Nadja Bellan-White: You can apply by going to the website Blackplus.vice.com to learn more about the program and fill out the application. Black+ is part of an annual and on-going partnership with the National Urban League and long-term commitment to the African-American community.  

If you can give one general piece of advice to Black entrepreneurs what would it be?

Marc Morial: I think being resourceful is the best piece of advice I would give young Black entrepreneurs. We know that Black-owned businesses often do not get the same opportunities afforded to others. You may not get the same loans or the same funding, but that doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish your goals. Whether it is free online classes, hiring interns, asking for advice from mentors or other business owners, you have to take advantage of all the different types of opportunities that can offset any deficiency you might have in your own business. It’s why programs like this are so important to have in the Black community.  

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