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Songstress Jennifer Hudson is putting the focus on empowering Black women entrepreneurs. The Chicago native has teamed up with Mastercard for the creation of a platform designed to provide resources and support for African American women business owners.

The effort—dubbed the Strivers Initiative—is a consumer-centered platform created to amplify the voices of Black women founders throughout the U.S. and spread awareness about their businesses. It was also launched to eliminate the racial and gender disparities surrounding access to capital. As part of the initiative, Mastercard is teaming up with the Fearless Fund—a venture capital firm founded by Arian Simone and Keshia Knight Pulliam—to provide grants for women of color entrepreneurs. The project was unveiled with an ad featuring Hudson that highlighted Black women business owners.

Hudson says she’s excited to team up with Mastercard to shine a light on the impact and influence of Black women. “I am fortunate to have been influenced and inspired by so many incredible Black female role models as I’ve pursued my dreams, but that’s not always the case for all Black girls and women,” she said in a statement. “Entrepreneurship has always been a part of the American Dream and the work that Mastercard is doing to elevate these visible, strong Black women business owners and highlight the support they’re providing our communities is hugely important to me and to the impact of future generations.” Cheryl Guerin, EVP Marketing and Communications in North America for Mastercard, added the alarming statistics surrounding the closures of Black-owned businesses amid the pandemic prompted Mastercard to step up and take action. “The pandemic has delivered financial headwinds that threaten the economic progress of Black female business owners and because of this, Mastercard is taking action, while also calling on consumers and corporates alike to shop, share and support these women.”

Efforts like the one being led by Mastercard are needed as data shows African American entrepreneurs have had to close their businesses at more than twice the rate of white business owners due to the public health crisis.

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