To kick off Women's History Month, Mastercard and the Fearless Fund are helping to boost Black women-owned businesses through the Strivers Initiative. The campaign, according to Cheryl Guerin, Mastercard's North American EVP of marketing and communications, aims to give one of the most vulnerable segments of business owners a chance at continuing down the path of entrepreneurship.
"We launched the Strivers Initiative, and this focuses on both elevating the visibility of Black women business owners that are overcoming these obstacles and it encourages those to share what's going on, to shop their businesses, and certainly support them like we are," Guerin told Cheddar.
As part of the campaign, award-winning singer and actress Jennifer Hudson was tapped to come onboard to perform Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's Ain't No Mountain High Enough which Guerin said: "is an absolute anthem for what these women are going through and what they're overcoming."
Since the onset of the pandemic, 41 percent of Black-owned businesses were forced to close, at least temporarily, between February and April 2020, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. A Canadian study also found all women-owned businesses took twice as long to reopen when compared to those owned by men.
As part of the Strivers Initiative Mastercard and the Fearless Fund — an organization that invests in businesses led by women of color — will host a grant program that not only provides monetary support but also helps boost digital visibility.
"Women only receive about 3 percent of all VC funding, and when you look at Black women entrepreneurs, it's a fraction. It's like 2.27 percent of all VC funding, so we partnered with the Fearless Fund to ensure we get money into the hands of these businesses," Guerin said.
Mastercard and the Fearless Fund are also hosting an educational roadshow with initial stops in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, and New Orleans. Attendees will be able to acquire tools and resources to help their businesses thrive.
For Mastercard this initiative is part of its long-term goal of helping at least 50 million small- or medium-sized businesses, Guerin noted.