For more than a year, the restaurant industry was upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. With dining rooms closed to customers, restaurant owners were forced to completely reimagine their business models, and for many, the changes required to keep their doors open were just too much. These challenges were felt on an even larger scale within the Black community, with more than 41% of Black-owned businesses having closed as compared to just 17% white-owned establishments. To make matters worse, more than 98% of Black-owned businesses were excluded from PPP (Payment Protection Plan) loans last year.
To help mitigate this crisis, the National Urban League and the PepsiCo Foundation joined forces to launch the $10 million Black Restaurant Accelerator. “As the pandemic exposed existing disparities many minority business owners face, we saw a fundamental threat that could erase the decades of progress Black-owned restaurants have made,” C.D. Glin, Vice President, Global Head of Philanthropy at The PepsiCo Foundation told Essence.
This investment will help Black restaurateurs not only recover from the pandemic but set them on a path to long-term economic resilience. “We are inspired by the progress we are making through our collaboration with the National Urban League to address a fundamental gap and create opportunities for Black-business owners to build generational wealth and continue to strengthen their communities,” continues Glin.
The program, which will support 500 small businesses across 12 cities celebrates the perseverance of these Black community leaders while raising awareness around new challenges that endanger the survival of these beloved community institutions. The program was designed to help offer real solutions to a history of economic disparities, and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the Black community.
“For too long our Black communities were restricted from their civil right to build themselves up in any way shape or form,” said Prince Lobo, Manager of Addis Nola. “This program will have an impact that will be felt for generations to come because they are supporting us in creating our American Dream for ourselves and our community.”