Comcast announced that it will award 13,000 businesses owned by people of color (including Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans) in a variety of categories including monetary grants, technology makeovers and marketing services from Comcast RISE. To date, the company has already disbursed $5 million in grants to businesses in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Houston and Philadelphia, and the company plans to award all 13,000 grants by 2022. RISE stands for Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment.
Lois Arnold, owner of Hairs 2 U, a Philadelphia wig bank that offers wigs to women and children affected by hair loss, said: “The Comcast RISE Technology Makeover award is truly a game changer for us.” Arnold continued, “Our redesigned website is giving us an upper edge with online marketing and awareness that will help drive both donors and customers in-need through our doors.”
Black-owned businesses suffered disproportionately over the last year, and struggled early on in 2020 to get access to the financial assistance they needed because of factors like banking deserts in communities of color, and accessibility issues with the first roll-out of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. These factors are compounded by the racial wealth gap.
Creating an Ecosystem To Support Black Success
Robert F. Smith believes that corporate investments can help unlock potential for economic growth in Black communities across the country. He also talked about how structural racism has led to issues accessing capital for Black communities, saying: “If you think about structural racism and access to capital, 70% of African American communities don’t even have a branch, bank of any type.” These banking deserts make it harder for Black-owned businesses to obtain financing and capital to start a business.
A report released last fall by McKinsey and Company shows just how important investments like Comcast’s are, and calls additional investments in Black-owned businesses would help create a stronger business ecosystem. The report determined that, with the right investments, $290 billion could be added to business equity and help close the existing Black-white wealth gap.
The Path Forward, 2% At a Time
To better support Black success, Robert F. Smith called for all large corporations to donate just 2% of their profits to support efforts to close disparities that exist for Black Americans. So far, several businesses have stepped up to the plate, like Netflix. Comcast’s move to open up funding and services is the kind of support we need from the private sector in order to make real, systemic change.
With significant investments in communities of color, ensuring programs to support businesses are doing so equitably, and cross-sector partnerships, we can build a path to a more equitable future for Black businesses than ever before.
Learn more about Comcast’s new RISE initiative to support businesses owned by people of color, and about The 2% Solution.