Research from IFundWomen of Color found that nearly 70% of women of color small business owners surveyed saw their revenue diminish in 2020—and of those, saw an average decline of 46%. Over 80% did not receive emergency government assistance to support their business in 2020 with half relying on their personal savings.
In what’s being considered a major move by a corporation, investment bank and financial services company Goldman Sachs announced earlier this month that it’s investing $10 billion over the next 10 years in its One Million Black Women campaign. The company says the investment is meant to advance racial equity and economic opportunity.
Goldman Sachs is partnering with several Black women-led organizations including Black sororities, The Links Inc. and the National Council of Negro Women. Black women who found success in the Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses program are also joining the effort. The program invests in small businesses in an effort to create jobs.
“Black women are at the center of this investment strategy because we know that capital has the power to affect change, and we know that Black women have the power to transform communities,” said Margaret Anadu, global head of sustainability and impact for Goldman Sachs asset management. “If we can make our economy work for Black women, we all benefit.”
One Million Black Women draws on the success of Black women in the 10,000 Small Businesses Program. Of the businesses that were helped, Black women-owned business owners were the most educated, Black women made more lasting revenue that any other group in the program and Black women owned-businesses in the program generated $1.6 billion in annual revenue.
In an interview with the AmNews, 10,000 Small Businesses graduate and President and CEO of Johnson Security Bureau, Inc. Jessica Johnson-Cope said One Million Black Women is aimed at addressing the wealth gap for Black women with the goal of improving the wealth of at least one million Black women.
Research from Goldman Sachs’ Black Womenomics estimates that reducing the earnings gap for Black women has the potential to create 1.2 to 1.7 million jobs.
“The numbers speak for themselves; we have to invest in Black women,” Johnson-Cope said. “In the keystone moments of a Black woman’s life, that’s where the wealth disparities become even greater. There are some real systemic things that have to be addressed. But the beauty is from your past experience, there’s a way you can drill down in all of these areas in hopes of improving the wealth outcomes for Black women. That’s what One Million Black Women is about.”
Goldman Sachs convened an advisory board for One Million Black Women consisting of Black leaders in business, the arts, entertainment, civil rights, education and law. Director and Chief Curator for the Studio Museum of Harlem Thelma Golden, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial, former Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett and actress Issa Rae are among those on the council.
Advisory council member Bill Bynum, who is the CEO of Hope Enterprise Corporation and Hope Credit Union, said One Million Black Women is one of the most exciting investments in his 40 years in the community development field.
“I’ve never seen in my time as large of an investment targeted at narrowing the racial and gender wealth gap,” he said. “What we’ve seen over the past year really pulled the cover off of underinvestment in communities of color and it has disproportionately affected Black women. When you look at the racial wealth gap, it is significant. When you have less of a safety net you have less of a chance to absorb the shocks associated with the type of crisis we’ve experienced.”
President and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable Melanie Campbell is also on the Advisory Council and explained that One Million Black Women is about breaking barriers.
“When you start changing the economic status for Black women, what are we going to do about the inequities when it comes to pay,” she said. “Part of our big challenge is we’re not able to build wealth. Black women tend to start a business out of necessity. The public sector is where we have historically been able to break barriers. There are a lot of layers to this and I want to see how we can really weigh in in a systematic way.”
Investments will be done through direct investing and grants. Goldman Sachs will track investments made and share the results publicly through annual updates and periodic meetings.