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Issa Rae Hopes To Inspire Black-Owned Businesses To Certify Through ‘ByBlack’ Initiative

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Issa Rae is supporting Black-owned businesses in certifying their brands through a new program launched by American Express and the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC).

On Wednesday, the companies announced their first national certification program—exclusively for Black-owned businesses—as part of their ByBlack initiative.

The program was first curated as a directory for Black-owned businesses and has now transformed into a “no-cost, digital platform” aimed to “unlock more ways to reach new customers and secure contracts for Black-owned businesses across the country,” according to a press release.

According to American Express’ Small Summer Study, “44% of consumers seek out Black-owned businesses, and 55% say they would be likely to use an official, easy-to-access digital database that certifies a business as being Black-owned,” the press release stated.

Rae recently certified Sienna Naturals, a natural haircare business she co-owns with Hannah Diop. The actress and entrepreneur hopes to reach more customers and engage other Black business owners to do the same.

“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,” Rae said in the release. “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.”

USBC’s president, Ron Busby, noted that Black businesses account for billions in revenue and have room to gain more capital.

“The Black business community generates more than $150 billion in revenue but has even larger potential. Working with American Express, we are continuing to expand ByBlack across the U.S. to help further propel the growth of Black-owned businesses by creating unparalleled access, visibility, and opportunities.”

American Express has committed to “providing access to capital and financial education to at least 250,000 Black-owned small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. by the end of 2024″ as part of their $1 billion action plan to “enhance diverse representation and promote equal opportunities.”

Uber and Verizon are among companies that have recognized the Black certification program, according to Essence.

To apply for the certification program, applicants must provide proof of identification and proof that their business is 51% Black-owned and controlled by a Black business owner.