American Express, in collaboration with the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, has announced the formation of the “Coalition to Back Black Businesses” with a commitment of $10m in grant money.

The funds are intended to support Black-owned small business recovery in the US over the next four years.

The Coalition is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between four major Black chambers:

The National Black Chamber of Commerce, the National Business League, the U.S. Black Chambers, and Walker’s Legacy. Eligible and interested Black small business owners can apply for the grant online starting 15 September.

Covid-19 has exposed systemic disadvantages

The disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black communities has become apparent as US Black-owned small businesses were twice as likely to close during the early months of the pandemic compared to small businesses nationally.

“Small businesses play a crucial role in our communities, and when the pandemic hit, Black-owned small businesses were hit the hardest,” said Anré Williams, Group President, Global Merchant & Network Services, American Express.

“The Coalition is aimed to provide eligible Black-owned small businesses with much-needed capital to help recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic and help them rebuild their businesses,” he added.

From now through September 21, eligible Black small business owners can apply for a $5,000 grant to assist them in their recovery.

Funds will support leadership development and business mentoring

The grant programme is funded by a $10m commitment from American Express over the next four years, of which a portion will also fund leadership development and business mentoring.

The Coalition to Back Black Businesses will also work to provide further funding, training, and resources to empower Black-owned small businesses in US communities that have long been struggling with economic growth.

According to research from the US Chamber of Commerce and MetLife, minority-owned small businesses are more likely to report trying and failing to secure a loan to help survive the economic turmoil (13% vs. 8% of non-minority businesses) and, most recently, 66% of minority-owned small businesses reported concerns about having to permanently close their business.