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Producer and actress Issa Rae has been a fierce advocate for Black entrepreneurship and the California native is furthering her efforts to empower founders of color through a new initiative. Rae is participating in a program designed to amplify Black-owned businesses.

The project—dubbed ByBlack—is a collaborative effort being led by Rae, American Express and the U.S. Black Chambers that is centered on helping Black founders get their ventures certified. Through the program—which is the first national certification initiative solely focused on Black ownership—businesses are provided with accreditations so their products and services can reach new consumer audiences and they can obtain contracts with large corporations. The ByBlack initiative’s mission is rooted in making the certification process affordable and accessible. The program offers a no-cost accreditation process for Black business owners. The founders also have the opportunity to join ByBlack’s digital directory to increase visibility for their business. The project is part of American Express’ larger commitment to provide access to capital and financial literacy education to 250,000 Black-owned businesses within the next three years.

Rae—who has embarked on her own entrepreneurial endeavors with the creation of coffee shops and co-ownership of a beauty brand dubbed Sienna Naturals—says the initiative will be instrumental in leveling the playing field for Black founders. “We have only scratched the surface of the collective power of Black businesses, so I am excited to join American Express and the USBC to shine a light on the opportunities ByBlack presents,” she said in a statement. “ByBlack is a powerful platform that connects Black business owners with new revenue streams and helps all of us find and shop at standout businesses. Together we can spread the word to support small Black businesses.” Ron Busby, who serves as president and CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. says the effort highlights the significance of Black-owned businesses adding “the success of Black-owned businesses benefits the communities they anchor and in turn, the country at large.”

Projects like ByBlack are needed as racial inequities in the entrepreneurship space persist. According to American Progress, an even distribution of capital would lead to the creation of 860,000 additional Black-owned firms that would employ upwards of 10 million people.


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