Operation HOPE and Shopify to help create one million Black-owned businesses

Abu Mubarik Oct 22, 2020 at 12:16pm

October 22, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Money Moves

Abu Mubarik

Abu Mubarik

October 22, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Money Moves

BALTIMORE, MD -- 4/18/20 -- Terra Cafe staff prepare 150 free lunches to distribute to local residents as part of Terra Cafe’s longstanding Neighbors Without Walls program. Photo: André Chung

Operation HOPE, a non-profit organization providing financial literacy in underserved communities, and e-commerce firm Shopify have teamed up to help create one million Black-owned businesses in the next 10 years.

The initiative dubbed “HOPE One Million New Black Business & New Black Entrepreneurship Initiative (1MBB)” will see Shopify provide up to approximately $130 million of resources through 1MBB over the course of the program, a press statement by Operation Hope said.

Due to systemic barriers in Black communities, many blacks and other minority groups face daunting challenges in establishing their own businesses, and in situations they manage to establish a business, seeking funding to expand them becomes another challenge.

What’s more, a study commissioned by Atlanta-based nonprofit Operation HOPE established that 58% of Black businesses were deemed at risk or distressed and suffering from low profits, low credit scores, or income shocks in the months immediately following the onset of the pandemic. The research further notes that due to the contagion, the number of Black workers and business owners fell sharply, over 40%, a more severe economic impact compared to other racial groups.

The pandemic’s disproportionate effects on Black businesses result in both acute and long-term impacts on Black families and future generations, according to the report. At present, four in 10 Black adults belong to families in which someone lost a job, was furloughed, or had hours cut, or lost work-related income amid the pandemic.

Operation HOPE and Shopify aim to reduce these obstacles faced by Black people by encouraging more aspiring Black entrepreneurs to start and scale businesses and provide them with the tools, resources, and education they may need to succeed.

“Creating generational wealth through the creation of new Black businesses and Black entrepreneurs is a direct gateway to social justice. The creation of ownership, jobs and opportunity in a generation helps to strengthen democracy and ensure freedom through self-determination. This is empowerment at scale,” said John Hope Bryant, CEO and Founder of Operation HOPE.

“To have Shopify actively supporting the 1MBB Initiative is a true game-changer. Working together, we can scale our business creation platform to help underserved communities and enhance economic prosperity across America.”

Commenting on the partnership with Operation HOPE, Shopify President, Harley Finkelstein said: “By collaborating with Operation HOPE and working together on our shared passion for helping underserved communities succeed, we believe we can help unlock even more economic opportunities for Black business owners across the country, leading to greater choices for shoppers everywhere.”

To achieve this, the 1MBB initiative intends to focus on critical tools for business success such as technology and resources, educational programs, and the opportunity to access capital. The program will also create an opportunity for Black business owners to sign up for Operation HOPE’s award-winning model of community uplift, financial literacy and education, according to the press statement.

Shopify plans to provide aspiring Black entrepreneurs with a tailored education with tools and resources to launch or expand their businesses upon graduating, the statement added.

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