Black and brown Americans have faced an upward battle when trying to start a business. They've historically experienced, among other challenges, getting start-up funding. This snuffs out the possibility of success for a brand before it’s even taken off. These are just some of the reasons why Pharrell Williams is launching an initiative called Black Ambition that will exclusively aid Black and Latinx entrepreneurs.
The eternally baby-faced producer and recording artist announced on December 1 the launch of the nonprofit initiative that aims to support Black and Latinx entrepreneurs who are launching tech, design, healthcare, consumer products, and services start ups, Billboard reported. As part of the launch, Williams announced two prize competitions: The Black Ambition HBCU Prize, which will award a $250,000 prize to one ambitious team and nine other prizes to smart runners up, and The Black Ambition Prize, in which the winner will receive up to $1 million.
And Williams’ connections here are crucial: Some partners at the project include Adidas, Chanel, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Rockefeller foundation, and the Visa Foundation. Interested parties have two months to come up with an idea before the first round closes in February. But winners will be announced July 2021.
“Recent events and tragedies have illustrated the always existent stark divisions in the American experience, and while entrepreneurship has long been a tenet of the American dream, marginalized people have faced long-standing barriers to success," Williams said in a statement, pointing to the banner year we have had as people of color in America with both injustice and a turning of the tide. “With Black Ambition, the goal is to help strengthen the pipeline of talented entrepreneurs and close the opportunity and wealth gaps derived from limited access to capital and resources."
It’s encouraging news in the business sector, since diversity breeds innovation. That’s not just sloganeering either — Harvard Business Review found that companies who are more racially- and gender-inclusive were 45% likelier to report that their market share grew over the previous year and were 70% likelier to report that the firm captured a new market. So, if your business likes money, it needs to include more of us — Black and brown geniuses.
In fact, the likely success of some of these businesses will only help to combat the pervasive dependance we have on young straight white men when it comes to business. Some of them quite frankly, don’t know what they’re doing — WeWork’s Adam Neumann being one example. Luckily for him, his bungling lead to a $1.7 billion payout, but Black entrepreneurs don’t get the same opportunities to fail upward.
Our future former president, Donald Trump, It’s another stock example of him being white and male leading to chance after chance to fail with little or no consequence, even all the way up to the most powerful position in the world. If you don’t believe me, there are many successful Black real estate moguls, including Ulysses Bridgeman Jr, Herman J Russell, and Janisse Bryant who never went bankrupt, yet the public at large knows nothing about them. That’s why Williams’s new initiative is so needed, wanted, and appreciated in this unequal world in which we live.