Facebook To Grant $40 Billion To Pandemic Hit Black-Owned Businesses

As a part of its broader initiative to help Black communities, which it announced in June, the social media company Facebook will give away $40 million in grants to Black-owned businesses that have been hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic, largest social media company of the world said.

The company said that the grant program will involve 10,000 companies set up by Black entrepreneurs with up to 50 employees. Those companies that qualify for this grant can apply to the company online by August 31, Facebook said.

Just like many other companies, Facebook too expanded some of its community outreach programs in response to the global outcry over the George Floyd tragedy this summer.

In June, the company had announced a broader program worth $100 million aimed at aiding the black communities all across the United States and the Black business grant program is a part of that larger program. Feedback from employees as well as those from people who applied for its $40 million Small Business Grants Program inspired the latest initiative, Facebook said. The Small Business Grants Program of the company is targeted to help small businesses owned by entrepreneurs of all races to tide over the novel coronvirus pandemic.

“Since we opened applications for the program, we have seen a huge amount of interest from Black-owned businesses, so we know they are facing enormous challenges,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a June statement announcing the company’s planned Black community investments. “When we asked for ideas from employees, many suggested that there was much more we could do to support them.”

Ever since state and local governments in the US ordered closure of nonessential operations in March to try to contain the spread of novel coronavirus pandemic, virtually all small business have been significantly hit. But studies have shown small business owners of color were hit in a disproportionate manner because of the shutdowns.

And the hardest hit has been Black small business owners.

Between February and April, 41 per cent of Black-owned businesses across the country had shut down, showed a study conducted by the New York Federal Reserve released earlier this month. In contrast, during the same period, only 17 per cent of White-owned businesses shut down. A University of California, Santa Cruz, study released in June also supported the findings of the Fed study.

Beginning next year, a goal to spend at least $1 billion with diverse suppliers has been set by Facebook.

The company has not been immune to the world’s reckoning with racism.

A complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for alleged discrimination was filed last month by a Black manager at Facebook and two other Black people who applied for jobs there.

And in July, a boycott led by the social justice group Color of Change and the media activist group Free Press against Facebook saw major advertisers of the company backing out over the alleged handling of hate speech and misinformation on its platforms by Facebook.

(Adapted from CNN.com)

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