Black entrepreneurs play a valuable role in the U.S. economy, with the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent estimates showing 161,031 Black-owned employer businesses bringing in $183.3 billion in annual receipts. However, Black Americans remain underrepresented among U.S. entrepreneurs and are less likely to receive funding from lenders than their white counterparts.
One way to address opportunity gaps is to ensure Black business owners have access to specific guidance and funding opportunities. Here are 22 agencies, media outlets, programs, and organizations that are geared toward supporting Black entrepreneurs.
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Black Enterprise is a digital media outlet that covers business, investing, and wealth-building topics for Black entrepreneurs and professionals. The media outlet also hosts networking events and podcasts like “Your Money, Your Life.” There’s also a campaign hosted in partnership with Nationwide to feature Black-owned businesses during Black Business Month (August).
Black Girl Ventures
Black Girl Ventures (BGV) was founded to support Black and Brown woman-identifying founders with access to a community, capital, and training. BGV hosts a “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition each year open exclusively to Black/Brown women founders, which has funded over 450 women of color. The organization also offers fellowships, digital communities, and an accelerator program for students at historically Black colleges and universities.
The Black Business Association
The Los Angeles-based Black Business Association (BBA), which was founded in 1970, advocates for policies to increase access to opportunities for contracts and procurement in both the public and private sectors. This nonprofit has offered networking, training, and more to its members over the years.
Striving to eliminate the racial wealth gap that many Black communities face, the national nonprofit Black Connect provides an entrepreneurial ecosystem for current and aspiring Black business owners. Membership — which is available to entrepreneurs, small businesses, nonprofits, and even student members — offers a range of support and services, including funding, mentorship, pro-bono legal services, financial planning, events, and more. Those interested can join one of Black Connect’s chapters (which are available in Atlanta; New York; Tampa, Florida; or Tulsa, Oklahoma), or you can apply to form a local chapter in your community.
The organization Black Founders, established in 2011, aims to support Black entrepreneurs by providing access to mentorship and funding. Black Founders differentiates itself from other organizations with its emphasis on technology entrepreneurship, as Black entrepreneurs have historically been underrepresented in the venture capital-backed tech startup landscape. During the past few years, Black Founders has also worked on community building by hosting networking events and hackathons.
Black-owned business directories
Several websites and organizations have started Black-owned business directories, including well-sourced sites such as Blax, Official Black Wall Street, We Buy Black, and Support Black Owned. These sites make it easy to search cities and states so consumers can find Black-owned auto services, beauty suppliers, fitness centers, restaurants, professional services, and more. Additionally, there are locally focused directories that focus on specific U.S. areas, including Brooklyn, Kansas City, New York, and Seattle.
Black Owned Everything
Black Owned Everything takes a more modern approach to the idea of Black-owned business directories by curating photos and products from Black-owned businesses via a popular Instagram account. Businesses that want to be featured can register with the service and then photos from their Instagram may be promoted for free to a much larger audience. Zerina Akers, a prominent costume designer and founder of the directory, told CFDA that thousands of brands have requested to be featured.
The Black Business Alliance
The Connecticut-based Black Business Alliance (BBA) seeks to work with Black business owners in the state and nationwide to promote and grow small and medium-size Black and minority businesses. Since 2014, the BBA has worked with 600+ business owners and professionals to provide economic development, business workshops, networking opportunities, and access to capital. The BBA also maintains a business directory for Black-owned enterprises based in Connecticut.
The Coalition to Back Black Businesses
The Coalition to Back Black Businesses — spearheaded by American Express, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the National Business League, U.S. Black Chambers, and Walker’s Legacy — has provided over $14 million in grants to over 1,400 small businesses. In addition to funding, the coalition has offered mentorship, training, and resources to help Black-owned businesses scale and thrive.
Democratizing the Friends and Family Round Grant
Female entrepreneurs of color, particularly Black and Latinx female founders, have long faced barriers to funding. This lack of access extends to the “friends and family” round of early stage funding — relying on a network that, due to the racial wealth gap, may not always be accessible to entrepreneurs of color. In 2022, Project Entrepreneur and Hello Alice launched the Democratizing the Friends and Family Round Grant to level the playing field. Grant recipients are given both capital and mentorship to support them in reaching their next growth milestone.
The SBA’s 8(a) program was created to “provide a level playing field for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged” people.
Elevate Together supports Black and Hispanic-owned small businesses with five or fewer employees, working to address the systemic disparities these groups have historically faced in business growth. The nonprofit initiative provides business education, access to professional networks, and financial assistance (including grants, in-kind donations, and nontraditional lending sources) for Black and Hispanic small business owners.
[Read more: 10 Business Success Tips from Black Entrepreneurs]
Fast Break for Small Business
In partnership with the NBA, WNBA, and NBA G League, LegalZoom has launched its Fast Break for Small Business grant to improve equitable access to funding and legal services, particularly for Black-owned small businesses. Grant recipients are eligible for grants of $10,000 each, plus up to $500 worth of products and services from LegalZoom.
JPMorgan Chase Advancing Black Pathways
The Advancing Black Pathways initiative from JPMorgan Chase offers capital, technical support, and pathways for Black businesses, with an initial commitment of $30 billion by the end of 2025. Some of the funding is set aside for things like home loans and affordable housing, but to date, it has provided $15,000 in small business loans and $100 million in Black, Hispanic, and Latino-owned minority depository institutions and community development financial institutions.
The Minority Business Development Agency
The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, has played an important role for years in helping Black-owned businesses by providing guidance on how to get funding, compete for contracts, and make products export-ready. MBDA business centers are located around the United States in cities with large numbers of minority-owned businesses.
The National Black MBA Association
The National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) is the largest network of Black professionals, comprising over 11,000 members, 40 local chapters, and over 300 partners in the corporate, academic, and not-for-profit spheres. Membership benefits include professional development and certification access, virtual and in-person events (including a scale-up pitch challenge), and access to the NBMBAA Career Success Network.
The National Minority Supplier Development Council
The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), the most important certification organization for minority-owned businesses, helps connect Black-owned businesses with more opportunities and partnerships. The NMSDC assists its more than 15,000 certified minority-owned businesses by helping match them with large corporations that wish to increase supplier diversity.
The National Urban League
The National Urban League, a civil rights and urban advocacy organization that was founded in 1910, has 92 affiliates serving 300 communities across the country. The organization offers a variety of services to help those who need a hand, including those focused on helping minority entrepreneurs who run their businesses as sole proprietors. National Urban League’s Entrepreneurship Center Program (ECP) has affiliates located in 13 cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. In 2021 alone, the ECP served over 29,000 participants and provided upward of $119 million in financing and contracting opportunities.
The Sage Invest in Progress Grant Program
The BOSS Network and Sage have partnered to launch the Sage Invest in Progress Grant Program, the inaugural grant of the BOSS Impact Fund. Beginning in 2024, this three-year grant program will invest $1.5 million in Black woman-owned founders of for-profit companies with a demonstrated need for funding.
The largest network of its kind in the United States, SCORE is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting small businesses through mentorship and education. Black entrepreneurs can connect with an experienced SCORE mentor for free business advice and leverage SCORE’s articles and resources on Black entrepreneurship.
The SheaMoisture Fund
SheaMoisture, a Black-founded beauty brand, has pledged to invest $1 million in direct funding each year through the SheaMoisture Fund. The fund covers several grants open to Black-owned businesses, including The Next Black Millionaires, Brown Girl Jane, The Blueprint Grant, and the SheaMoisture Community Impact Grant.
[Read more: 13 Funding Options for Black-Owned Businesses]
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a) Business Development program
The SBA’s 8(a) program was created to level the playing field for small businesses owned by entrepreneurs from historically disadvantaged groups. According to the program’s guidelines, any business that is 51% or more Black-owned has the potential to compete for lucrative set-aside government contracts, receive help at navigating federal contracts, and get training. To take part in the program, businesses must first get certified by the SBA.
U.S. Black Chambers
The U.S. Black Chambers (USBC) acts as an umbrella organization that works to support more than 145 African American chambers of commerce and business organizations in the U.S. Local African American chambers promote and advocate for Black-owned businesses while the USBC works at a national level to highlight Black-owned companies with a business directory, education webinars, and informative original contentlike podcasts.
This article was originally written by Sean Ludwig and Emily Heaslip.
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