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The Plug: When big tech gives millions to Black founders

Photo courtesy of Envato Elements

From our partners at The Plug

Companies like Shopify, Instacart, and now Amazon, have pledged to lift their platforms in support of onboarding more Black and brown business owners. Airbnb led this trend in 2018 when it partnered with the NAACP to help Black homeowners earn money through the app. 

The challenge is determining exactly how these companies will enable success. The formula typically works like this: Dedicate a benign amount of money — mostly ad credits or waived seller fees. Partner with an excessively Black national organization. Set no KPIs.

Will Black businesses that leverage the opportunity benefit? Certainly. Leveraging these marketplaces and taking advantage of entry points, is certainly helpful for companies that typically don’t have a bevy of resources to choose from.

Is this signaling deep investment? It’s virtue signaling at best for companies that have posted over $100 billion in revenue in the first quarter alone. An effort of employee support is not to be ignored, however. Personal relationships with sellers enable open doors.

But measurement of success is difficult, often not tracked, and org partners are merely highly-paid faces of these initiatives without any accountability to the companies they’ve teemed with onboarding and very little reporting provided to the public.

In short — we have no idea how these programs will be impactful on a mass scale. Who they will effectively reach, and how this will balance the scales in terms of who is represented on the platform, or which top sellers are bringing in the most revenue.

And still, with all of its flaws, I’m here for all entry points that help Black, brown, womxn, and other founders and business owners get access to tools, support, and resources they need to grow.

In the work,

Sherrell Dorsey, Editor in Chief 

P.S. Join our discussion on the future of investing in Black founders and fund managers this Wednesday via LinkedIn Live in partnership with Citi. 

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