NBL Digital Solutions Platform
The National Business League, a non-partisan, non-sectarian Black business professional and trade association founded in 1900 by Booker T. Washington, says it will launch a digital solutions platform for Black businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Set to go live on May 4 with several initiatives, including the creation of a new website and mobile app, live streaming capability, social media platforms, and an on-demand virtual education and training center, the platform will measure the public and private sector, federal government, and banking industry as a pipeline to engagement with the Black and minority business community.
While the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the coronavirus is crippling small businesses across the nation, its impact is especially devastating on Black-owned enterprises, whose owners constantly have to seek assistance from alternative sources. Of the $2.2 trillion designated for small businesses through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, less than one percent was negotiated for the 2.6 million Black businesses nationwide. Several national technology firms have invested more than $1.8 million into developing the platform, led by Computech CXL, an $80 million, tier-1 firm, and MPS Group, a $120 million, tier-1 Black-owned business. Other investors include CatalystXL, Locostation, Naranjo Designs.
“Due to the severity of the coronavirus impact on Black-owned businesses, the NBL and technology investors developed the league’s digital solutions platform to assist the federal government, major corporations, and traditional lenders to ensure resources and opportunities reach underserved small businesses in America,” says Kenneth L. Harris, NBL’s president and CEO.
Minority Business and Technology Initiative
Amazon Business and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) launched their first Minority Business and Technology Initiative webinar event this month, hosted by the San Antonio MBDA Export Center. The collaborative Minority Business and Technology Initiative, (MBTI, www.mbda.gov/MBTI), is a training and development series for minority business owners, entrepreneurs, and startups nationwide to grow their business with e-commerce. It will provide participating MBEs with guidance, information, and resources to harness the power of the Internet and reach more business customers in nine countries around the globe where Amazon Business is available. MBTI will leverage resources and content from the Amazon Small Business Academy, with a specific focus on accelerating B2B capabilities of minority-owned businesses through interactive programming. The initiative will feature training seminars, led by Amazon Business experts, that focus on increasing revenue, exporting, mentorship, job growth, and raising corporate capital. Minority-owned businesses are the fastest-growing category of small businesses. Global e-commerce sales are anticipated to hit over $3 trillion by the end of 2020, with e-commerce sales in the U.S. alone projected to reach $892 billion by 2022.
Emergency Coastal Resilience Fund
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office for Coastal Management in March awarded more than $43 million in grants under the Emergency Coastal Resiliency Fund to improve the resilience of local communities and wildlife habitat in the face of increasingly severe and frequent natural disasters. The grants announced will support natural and nature-based infrastructure that will help people and wildlife recover from hurricanes Michael and Florence, Typhoon Yutu, and the California coastal wildfires of 2018, and be better prepared for future events. The 27 grants awarded will support projects in Alabama, California, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The grantees will also receive more than $54.7 million in funds from other sources to generate a total conservation impact of nearly $98 million. Black and other minority-owned businesses in these states may find supplier opportunities for these projects. A complete list of the 2020 grants made through the Emergency Coastal Resilience Fund is available at https://www.nfwf.org/sites/default/files/2020-03/ecrf-2020-grant-slate.pdf.
Africa for Africa
The African Development Bank (AfDB) announced the creation of a $10 billion COVID-19 Response Facility to assist regional member countries in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The Facility is the latest measure taken by the Bank to respond to the pandemic and will be the institution’s primary channel for its efforts to address the crisis. Akinwumi Adesina, AfDB president, said the package took into account the fiscal challenges that many African countries are facing.
The Ghanaian government announced it will absorb all water bills for the next three months, following fears of an interrupted supply and lack of employment during the coronavirus pandemic. Frontline health workers will also receive a 50 percent increase on salaries and are eligible to a three-month tax holiday and insurance, the government says.