Addressing the Need
Black Business owners were devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s estimated that 40-60% of businesses owned by Black men and women went under or were negatively affected by the pandemic. That’s the equivalent of 1 million businesses. Worse yet, Black business owners are being targeted for PPP scams and the like by people seeking to capitalize on their vulnerabilities.
Enter Operation HOPE’s 1MBB Initiative. Operation HOPE announced in October of 2020 a program to start, grow, or scale one million black-owned businesses by 2030. This ambitious program was built on the back on a long-standing history of providing HOPE to communities in need. Operation HOPE recently celebrated its 29th year having served more than 4 million individuals and directed more than $3.2 billion in economic activity into disenfranchised communities—turning check-cashing customers into banking customers, renters into homeowners, small business dreamers into small business owners, minimum wage workers into living wage consumers, and uncertain disaster victims into financially empowered disaster survivors. The for purpose, non-profit was uniquely positioned to provide much needed support to uplift and revive black businesses that were hit hard in 2020 with business learning and connections to credible partners in banking, eCommerce, and small business development. After the pandemic, HOPE’s founder, John Hope Bryant, mobilized his resources and quickly partnered with the 2nd largest eCommerce business in the world: Shopify. Shopify’s partnership ensures that Black business owners can access much needed support in the digital space – an often-cited reason why many businesses went under when brick and mortar stores were no longer viable.
How is it all going?
We spoke with Dr. Jessica Bergeron, who is leading the 1MBB Initiative, who gave us the latest stats on 1MBB:
Sign-Ups and Commitments – Since October 2020’s announcement, 1MBB has had almost 5,000 participants sign-up and 13,000 partnership commitments. Partnership commitments are defined as strategic and community partners who are committed to resources, recruitment, or community support for individual businesses in their communities. Partners have agreed to track their committed sign-ups over the 10-year period through a referral code.
Notable partners include – Shopify, Truist, iHeartRadio Atlanta, Aprio, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Clark Atlanta University, City of Memphis and City of Salisbury, and many other organizations who have committed to supporting Black businesses to help enrich their communities and the economy.
Exciting Events and Happenings – Dr. Bergeron explained that, while individual coaching is the ‘secret sauce’ of why business owners feel supported in their journeys and 1MBB clients will always have access to a 1:1 coach, Operation HOPE had to also create a scalable coaching model in order to reach so many clients. Partners like Aprio have helped take this business learning to scale by offering content through webinars and other scalable solutions. Other exciting news is that, to date, partners have contributed 8500 volunteer hours to 1MBB clients to provide expertise in areas like marketing, communications, eCommerce, accounting, taxes, legal help, and much more. Another fun opportunity is a partnership with Comcast RISE which has provided an opportunity for their newly awarded entrepreneurs to receive coaching support from 1MBB on the platform Ureeka, which is a community of 10,000 entrepreneurs who can share information, resources, as well as hopes and dreams. This partnership connects HOPE’s 1MBB initiative to other agencies providing similar services such as MBDA, thus allowing 1MBB participants access to shared resources.
Lessons Learned – Black Business owners still need more support with digital. Some may not feel ready to take the leap to eCommerce because they still need a better understanding and foundation in creating a digital footprint. A partnership with Grow with Google has allowed 1MBB access to some foundational knowledge and course material that they plan to roll out next month.
How You Can Get Involved
Despite the early success of 1 Million Black Businesses (1MBB) there is still room for more Black small business owners and partners to join the initiative. If you would like to sign up for the program or become an official organizational/institutional partner, please visit www.hope1mbb.org to learn more and sign up!