While working as an Entrepreneur-in-residence at Google from 2014 to 2016, I traveled across the country to help enhance the online presence of hundreds of Black-owned businesses. As a Black woman, entrepreneur and Googler, supporting Black-owned businesses and Black founders is my passion.
Over the past few months, we’ve seen a surge in online searches for Black-owned businesses. It’s been inspiring to witness so many people look for ways to invest in the Black community. Now, we’re announcing three new ways to help support Black business owners.
Starting today, merchants in the U.S. with a verified Business Profile on Google can add a Black-owned business attribute to their profile, making it easier for customers to find and support them. As part of our $300 million commitment to support underrepresented entrepreneurs, we’re also integrating the attribute into the digital skills training programs we offer Black business owners through Grow with Google Digital Coaches. And through Google for Startups Accelerator for Black Founders, we’re starting our work with the first cohort of 12 startups.
With this attribute, our goal is to make Search and Maps more inclusive and help support Black-owned businesses when they need it most.
“Everyone who comes into this store is welcome,” says Janet Jones, founder and co-owner of the Detroit-based Source Booksellers. “For us, being Black-owned means serving the community we’re in.”
By adding the attribute, people using Google Search and Maps can see Source Booksellers is Black-owned, and easily extend their support by purchasing one of their products, leaving a great review and sharing their Business Profile with others looking for their next book.
To help get the word out about the new Black-owned attribute, we’ve partnered with the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC). With 145 Black Chambers of Commerce and 326,000 members across the country, USBC provides leadership and advocacy to empower Black business owners through resources and initiatives. Together, Google and USBC will provide training for Black-owned businesses to enhance their presence on Google through the use of digital tools like Google My Business and Google Analytics. Our hope is that by partnering with USBC, we can help more businesses connect with their community and customers.
We’re also adding the Black-owned business attribute to the training curriculum offered through the Grow with Google Digital Coaches program. Since 2017, Digital Coaches have offered free mentorship, networking, and workshop opportunities to Black and Latinx businesses in 11 cities across the U.S., including Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit. And the program is growing: Last month, we announced an expansion to Birmingham, Alabama, Memphis, Tennessee and Cleveland, Ohio, as well as a commitment to train more than 50,000 Black owned small businesses.
Through Google for Startups, we’re also expanding ways to support Black entrepreneurs who are using technology to address so many of today’s biggest challenges. Today, we’re announcing the inaugural class of the Google for Startups Accelerator for Black Founders with 12 high potential Seed to Series A tech startups based in the U.S.
The class includes entrepreneurs like Guy Assad, founder of Clerkie, a business designed to help Americans get out of debt. It also includes Melvin Hine, founder of Upswing, which is dedicated to improving the online education system, and Ashley Edwards, founder of MindRight Health which provides digital mental health services for young people. Starting next month, these 12 founders will receive training and support from Google and industry experts on technical challenges, business growth, and outside investment opportunities to help them reach the next level.
In my current role as the Head of Google for Startups in the U.S., I have the privilege of continuing to work with Black entrepreneurs. Today’s updates are a part of our company-wide effort to support Black-owned businesses through products and meaningful partnerships. It’s my hope that this attribute and Google’s tools and training can serve as additional resources for Black-owned businesses and the people who support them.