Over the span of the last few months, COVID-19 has flipped the world on its head, but most heavily hit were small businesses — particularly those owned by minority entrepreneurs. Even prior to the COVID19 outbreak, this group, which comprises 37 percent of all US businesses, faced greater challenges in starting, running, and growing their companies according to new data. Despite progress being made in terms of vaccine development and parts of the country continuing to re-open, these hurdles still remain.
Here’s a few ways Facebook is lending its support in offering the resources and tools needed for these businesses to thrive.
Black Business August
Facebook is looking to celebrate and promote the work of Black business owners and their adversity with “Black Business August,” a month-long series of education and business growth content featuring training, programming, and business spotlights.
“We invite you to join us throughout August as we host virtual events, dive into topics like finance, health and fashion, and share inspiring stories of Black-owned businesses from all over the country,” the company said in an official blog announcement.
Experts to be featured in upcoming sessions include Simileoluwa Adebajo, Head Chef and Owner of San Francisco’s Eko Kitchen, and Omar Kinnebrew, Founder and CEO of Atlanta’s Bespokuture. Key topics include ‘building a thriving community,’ ‘adapting in uncertain times,’ and ‘bridging the opportunity gap.’ Access to capital, networks, and the loyal support of a community are simple but critical elements for business success today as we continue to navigate uncertainty.
Outside of these webinars, additional programming will be hosted on Facebook Elevate, ‘a community and learning platform for Black businesses and creators,’ centered on themes of ‘health and wellness,’ ‘finance and wealth,’ ‘food and beverage,’ and ‘beauty and fashion.’ Each week various Black business owners and creators will come together to share their journeys and lead activities that put the practices to action. A workout by Ariel Harris Belgrave of Gym Hooky and a cooking session from The Spice Suite are just two examples.
The first two themes are especially top of mind for many. Now more than ever it’s easy to lose sight of work-life balance and the important truth that financial well-being directly impacts our mental and physical health. Mindfulness can deliver the necessary productivity and clarity in responding to financial obstacles and avoid paralysis when it comes to business decisions amidst the unknown.
Empowering the next generation of Black storytellers
Beyond businesses themselves, Facebook is also looking inward at its own community and the voices being represented. Specifically, the platform is introducing a new $25 million funding program to support black creators. The main objective of the initiative is to improve diversity and inclusion from within by elevating a significant community of storytellers who want to celebrate their communities, amplify their unique narratives, and have a positive impact.
With the heightened consumption of content during quarantine, speed is critical for earning and maintaining attention. Brands are quickly learning that in order to stay ahead and pivot their strategies, they must be open to learning from creators versus simply mimicking the advertising space. In this vein, Facebook is looking to help these storytellers build a diverse and innovative business across its entire family of apps.
“We’re asking up-and-coming Black creators to put their creative talents to the test with our program for Black creators. Our program is intended to amplify Black voices, and is geared towards Black creators aged 18+ with a minimum of 10,000 followers on Facebook or 10,000 followers on Instagram. Creators must reside in the U.S.,” the platform shared.
Through these collective efforts Facebook hopes to make strides in addressing concerns raised by the recent results of a civil rights audit conducted over the last few years with the goal of helping the company improve its overall policies and “strength and advance civil rights” within its community. We can’t only rely on the platforms, however. As marketers it is our responsibility to help ensure these stories cut through the noise and to invest time in order to develop a deeper understanding of the issues and opportunities at play.
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