Black founders throughout the country are using entrepreneurship and ownership to reclaim their communities in the face of gentrification. According to the Miami Herald, NBA player Udonis Haslem has teamed up with the cryptocurrency company FTX to provide small BIPOC and women-owned businesses in his hometown with funding.
Through his nonprofit the Udonis Haslem Foundation, the three-time NBA champ—who hails from Miami—and FTX are donating $50,000 to two diverse founders. Haslem says witnessing the wrath of gentrification and displacement in neighborhoods like Miami Gardens and Overtown prompted him to launch the grant program.
“You’re bringing in bigger chains and the businesses that have survived in these communities for a long time have a different kind of competition,” Haslem shared in a statement, according to the news outlet. “They don’t have access to business plans and marketing and the financial backing needed to sustain in gentrified areas.” The winning businesses will be revealed in August.
Grant initiatives like the one launched by Haslem and FTX are crucial when it comes to leveling the playing field within entrepreneurship and ensuring businesses owned by Black and Brown founders have staying power. Research shows Black and Latinx entrepreneurs receive a mere 2.6 percent of venture capital funding. The pandemic widened the disparities causing 41 percent of Black business owners to shutter their establishments for good in 2020.
Several athletes and NBA franchises have spearheaded projects focused on advancing Black entrepreneurship. In February, NBA player Jrue Holiday and his wife Lauren announced they were distributing a second round of grants to Black-owned businesses and nonprofits at the forefront of social change through the Jrue and Lauren Holiday Social Impact Fund they launched in 2020.
“In an effort to assist marginalized and underrepresented communities with the funding, mentorship and resources needed to survive; we saw then and continue to witness the immediate ways small businesses owners and community change agents need to be supported,” the couple shared in a statement. “Our commitment to doing our part only grows stronger after seeing the life-changing impact the JLH Fund has on people’s lives.”
Last year, the Milwaukee Bucks joined forces with the nonprofit The Lonely Entrepreneur to provide Black business owners nationwide with free access to the organization’s digital community.