AmEx and U.S. Black Chambers Roll Out First-Ever National Certification Program for Black-Owned Businesses
The expansion of USBC's ByBlack program will now offer added visibility and support for Black-owned businesses.
While it seems as if no industry or individual business has come out of this pandemic unscathed, Black-owned businesses have been particularly heard hit. As Ron Busby, President of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., explained in a recent interview with Entrepreneur, “Between February and April 2020, 41% of Black firms [were] forced to close their doors. That relates to about 442,000 black companies that suffered."
In response, USBC and American Express have teamed up to expand USBC's ByBlack networking hub by offering the country’s first-ever national certification program for Black-owned businesses. “There were other certifications that were out there were for corporations, for large Black firms, and it was very costly," says Busby. "U.S. Black Chamber wanted to create something that verified [businesses] so that corporations, individuals and the government sector could find and support our businesses and make sure that they were receiving the resources, information and the opportunity that they need."
The program, which is accepting applications and will recognize recipients online, is free to business owners and ensures that their businesses are accessible to consumers and companies looking to support and collaborate with Black-owned firms. The process takes about 30 days from application to receiving formal certification.
“There is no nationally recognized free and widely available program out there for Black-owned business certifications,” adds Jessica Ling, senior vice president, Global B2B Marketing, American Express, who've partnered with ByBlack on the initiative. “So as we see countless organizations across corporate America come out with pledges to diversify spending with Black-owned businesses, ByBlack is incredibly well positioned to help Black-owned businesses find and connect with those contract opportunities.”
Despite census tallies of about 2.6 million Black-owned firms in the U.S., Busby believes that there are many more that aren’t reported, including smaller family owned shops and businesses that operate with freelance employees and independent contractors. Busby also believes that's why so many Black-owned firms were unable to receive PPP loans amid the pandemic.
But both Busby and Ling are confident that the new certification process will unlock doors for years to come. “Ultimately, what we'd love to see is the businesses that we own operate, grow to size, grow to scale,” he says. “And through this platform, I think you'll start to see this.”