Empowering Black-owned businesses with Hello Alice
Research shows that Black-owned businesses have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn. Black entrepreneurs have less access to capital, mentorship, and growth opportunities and they are also significantly underrepresented in retail. According to the US Census Bureau, only 6 percent of US retail businesses have a Black owner, though Black Americans represent 14 percent of the US adult population.
Building on our longstanding commitment to supporting small businesses and underrepresented communities, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is investing in Black-owned businesses in collaboration with Hello Alice. Hello Alice is a free, multichannel platform that helps small businesses launch and grow.
As part of Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator (BBA) and with multiple teams across Amazon, AWS is helping to fund grants of $10,000 to select Black-owned businesses participating in BBA to help address their immediate needs and assist with recovery and revival in the wake of the pandemic. These grants will be administered by Hello Alice. Applications for the grants are now open and available here, along with details and qualifications. As part of this collaboration, Amazon has also launched a new community on Hello Alice’s platform where members can access a wealth of learning resources, including trainings on how to successfully leverage the cloud as a small business.
As part of this launch, we invited Elizabeth Gore, co-founder and president of Hello Alice, to share how the organization is helping small businesses launch and grow, and how their collaboration with AWS helps advance their mission.
AWS: Can you tell us more about what Hello Alice does and why you founded it four years ago?
Elizabeth Gore: Hello Alice is a free platform that helps businesses launch and grow through access to mentorship, grants, resources, and more. We have an incredible community of nearly 500,000 business owners in all 50 states and across the globe and are tracking data and trends to increase the success rate for entrepreneurs. As a Latina-owned company, my co-founder Carolyn Rodz and I believe in providing access to capital and resources to all small business owners including women, people of color, veterans, and everyone with an entrepreneurial spirit. We wholeheartedly believe in business for all and that means equal opportunities to succeed.
AWS: What resources do you have available for Black-owned businesses, specifically?
EG: In partnership with the NAACP, we created the Black-Owned Business Center to ensure the growth and advancement of Black small business owners. The center is deploying over $4 million USD in grants to Black-owned small businesses and providing mentorship to all who join. In addition, all applicants to the Amazon grants program have full access to resources available on the Hello Alice platform, which includes small business how-to-guides, mentorship, digital support communities, and additional funding opportunities.
AWS: What are some of the main challenges that Black-owned small businesses face today?
EG: We released our latest data report with the NAACP analyzing the current state of Black entrepreneurship in February 2021 which received responses from nearly 80,000 Black small business owners on our platform. Some key findings from the report show how the pandemic’s impact has significantly disproportionately hurt Black-owned small businesses:
- The number one challenge Black owners face is raising capital. More than one-third also reported total revenue of less than $25,000.
- Many are still looking for federal aid programs, private grant opportunities, and other funding resources as opposed to their white counterparts who are focused on 2021 strategic planning. This behavior reflects the differences in capital access across demographics.
- More than half said that their business performed worse in 2020 when compared to 2019, but there is hope. Nearly 9 in 10 Black business owners said they expect to perform better in 2021.
AWS: How is Hello Alice using the AWS Cloud to advance your work?
EG: We rely on AWS to provide the technological infrastructure we need to grow, from streaming video content to delivering a myriad of frontend and backend applications.
Learn more about Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator Community and apply for a grant here.
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