Even in the digital age of ecommerce, brands can be obstructed by societal barriers, reducing business opportunities. Amazon recognized that some users needed support to be on an equal playing field as their peers. Hence, their Black Business Accelerator (BBA) was created. It is a major part of their commitment to invest $150 million in dismantling unique obstacles Black-owned businesses face.

We’re lucky enough to chat with Shaina Ross, Senior Program Manager on Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator Team. She shared with us the details of the program, how it has evolved today, and some of the fantastic successes it has shown for the greater community on Amazon. Here’s what we’ve learned.

A Multifaceted Approach to Empowerment

Launched in June 2021, BBA adopts a three-pronged strategy to create a comprehensive support system for Black entrepreneurs:

  1. Financial Assistance:
    • Grant Opportunities: Eligible sellers can receive grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000, facilitating reinvestment for business acceleration.
    • Credits for Startups: BBA provides a $500 startup credit and up to $3,000 advertising credits, easing the initial financial burden for new businesses.
  2. Business Education:
    • Live Webinars: Tailored webinars offer support for sellers at every stage of their business, aiding newcomers and enhancing established Amazon stores.
    • On-Demand Education: Accessible through the University and Amazon Small Business Academy, sellers can delve into a wealth of educational resources.
  3. Marketing and Promotional Support:
    • Visibility Campaigns: BBA collaborates with businesses to feature them in marketing campaigns, harnessing the power of visibility for sustained growth.
    • Dedicated Badges: The Black-owned business badge and Small Business Badge help customers identify and support businesses aligned with their social purpose goals.

Accessing the Black Business Accelerator

To help brands of all sizes succeed on their platform, Amazon made it simple to take advantage of this program. Participation in BBA requires an Amazon pro seller account, a product-based business, and a verified minority-owned business certification. To avoid potential obstacles, the program collaborates with organizations like Supplier Gateway to assist in obtaining certifications.

Success Stories: Lilies of Charleston

One compelling success story within the BBA ecosystem is Lilies of Charleston. Originating from South Carolina, this family-owned business started in 1985, bottling hot sauces, barbecue sauces, and spices from recipes rooted in the Gullah community. Leveraging BBA, Lilies of Charleston expanded nationally, benefiting from features in marketing campaigns, enhanced brand awareness, and a dedicated account manager, all contributing to accelerated growth.

Vision for the Future:

As with many of Amazon’s other services, they are always working to improve the Black Business Accelerator. Here are a few things for which to keep your eye out in 2024.

Networking and Community Building

Connecting with other sellers and audiences alike is crucial for sellers to learn and grow. Amazon intimately understands this part of the industry and is creating opportunities for Black-owned businesses to grow their social spheres.

Future updates to the BBA will help in amplifying networking opportunities for participants. Recognizing the intrinsic power within the Black business community, BBA envisions creating virtual and in-person forums for sellers to share best practices, address obstacles, and build lasting connections.

Collaboration with Service Providers

BBA extends an invitation for collaboration with service providers, emphasizing the need to identify and address unique barriers Black-owned businesses face. By working collectively, the program envisions a synergy that maximizes impact, fostering inclusivity and sustainable growth.

Upcoming Events and Celebrations

As BBA continues its mission, upcoming events include participation in the Black and e-Commerce conference in August and Amazon’s Accelerate conference in September. Celebrating the program’s two-year anniversary during Black Business Month underscores a commitment to supporting and celebrating Black-owned businesses.