Rockefeller Foundation Teams Up With Google To Support Covid-Hit Minority Entrepreneurs

By Jemima McEvoy Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has been absolutely devastating to most business owners — but data shows that historically marginalized communities in the United States have fared the worst. That’s why, in the face of a national recession, targeted relief efforts are more important than ever. A recent large-scale effort to support hard-hit minority business owners comes from The Rockefeller Foundation in collaboration with Google.

Together, the organizations have announced pushes to support a campaign entitled “Together We Win” that was launched in June 2020 by Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP), Ureeka, and the Flo Lab. This campaign serves to identify small businesses in need of support and provide them with tools for recovery and prosperity — both in the short-term and the long-term.

Short-term support is pertinent given the ongoing pandemic and its disproportionate impact on entrepreneurs of color. According to an August survey released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with MetLife, minority business owners are more likely than non-minority owners to report difficulty obtaining loans, express fears about permanent closure to the pandemic, and predict declining revenues over the next year. The poll found that nearly two in three (66%) minority small business owners were concerned about having to permanently close their business, as opposed to 57% of non-minority small business owners.

“The pandemic’s disproportionate impact on minority-owned small businesses is further evidence of systemic inequalities in our country,” wrote U.S. Chamber President Suzanne P. Clark. “Even more concerning, the pandemic could exacerbate and elongate the economic struggles already facing minority-owned businesses and families.”

Through identifying areas in need and encouraging business owners to advocate for themselves and for institutional change to local policymakers, thought leaders, organizations, and more, the “Together We Win” campaign was already making an impact on minority-owned businesses and their communities. Now, with significant support from one of the biggest companies in America and a major philanthropic organization, the campaign’s scope will only be widened.

As explained in an October 7 press release, Google and The Rockefeller Foundation will help “Together We Win” support hundreds of Latino-owned small and medium-sized businesses across 10 U.S. cities by easing access to capital and training “to overcome the economic downturn and continue to grow.” The foundation has pledged to inject an initial $10 million which will be dispersed among government, business, faith-based, and non-profit partners across the 10 most-affected U.S. cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, El Paso, Houston, Louisville, Miami, Newark, Norfolk and Oakland. These partners will then help with two goals, per the press release, protecting existing communities and knocking down barriers preventing access to capital and credit among low wage workers and minority-run businesses.

“We are excited by the renaissance of partners interested in supporting [Black and Indigineous people of color] entrepreneurs,” said The Rockefeller Foundation’s Director of U.S. Equity and Economic Opportunity Gregory Johnson. “Entrepreneurship is a demonstrated means to economic independence. The investment supports the ability of Latinx entrepreneurs, who have opened businesses at almost double the rate of business openings for any other demographic group in recent years.”

Early data shows that Latinx business owners are among the most impacted groups due to the pandemic. Before Covid-19 hit, latino entrepreneurs were the fastest-growing segment of business owners in the United States. Over the past decade, the number of latino business owners increased by 34%, while the number of overall business owners grew by just 1%, per a study from Stanford university. Latino entrepreneurs contribute $500 billion to the U.S. economy each year in sales, 4% of the country’s total revenues, and employed more than three million people in 2019, 5.5% of the country’s total employment.

“They are critical to the local and national economies — providing jobs and local essential goods and services to low income or vulnerable groups,” said Johnson.

The trio of groups behind the initial campaign explained how the support of these two big-name organizations will help them achieve their larger goal of creating “more than a campaign,” but “a movement, a seismic shift.” “Now with the endorsement of The Rockefeller Foundation Opportunity Collective and, we have additional means to really extend our reach and make a sizable impact on hard hit communities at a national level,” said HIP’s Senior Advisor and Co-Founder of the PowerUp Fund Nancy Santiago.

About the Author

Headshot for author Jemima McEvoy

Jemima is a journalist who enjoys reporting on business, particularly small business and entrepreneurship.

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