The coronavirus pandemic has created an unstable, uncertain climate for most people — and among the most impacted from an economic perspective are small business owners. It's been inspiring to see fashion and beauty brands step up to provide support in myriad ways, and the latest example comes from hair-care brand SheaMoisture, which has pledged an impressive $1 million in aid to support women of color entrepreneurs and small business owners via a series of grants.
On Monday, the brand teased the initiative via Instagram: "We stand ready to help. While much has changed in the world, we will continue to show up for our community, women of color and small minority businesses during this time," read the caption. "Stay tuned for more details around our Community Commerce Fund we have developed to assist small businesses and the communities that they serve."
On Wednesday morning, SheaMoisture and its parent company, Sundial Brands, announced the full details of what its program would entail. It's driven by the brand's established "community commerce" business model, which focuses on "reinvesting in communities the brand serves" and "[creating] economic opportunities and economic independence." The program isn't simple, no doubt to ensure the funds get into the right hands.
Initially, SheaMoisture will be offering $100,000 in grants ($10,000 each to 10 different businesses). Beginning immediately, the brand will enlist a network of influencers to spread awareness to those who may wish to apply for the grants. "All minority small business owners and entrepreneurs of color (including restaurants, hospitality, grooming, entertainers, wellness instructors, etc.) who have the ability to convene communities online for good, or distribute goods door-to-door (or via e-commerce) are encouraged to apply," per a press release from the company.
Ten businesses that have demonstrated "how the award will be used to cover their costs and assist others" will be selected to receive a $10,000 grant. Then, via a partnership with We Buy Black, the largest marketplace for Black-owned businesses, SheaMoisture will award additional funds throughout April to more businesses.
Via a digital "Woman of Color Businesses E-Lab" platform, We Buy Black and SheaMoisture will provide access to resources, mentorship and advice to business owners impacted by the current economic climate from experts from Sundial Brands, Unilever and more. Women of color entrepreneurs who complete the education series will then be eligible for entry into a virtual competition to receive funding.
"During this unprecedented time of upheaval, small businesses are being disproportionately affected. For SheaMoisture, which was once a small business, the power of community and entrepreneurship is close to our hearts," said Sundial Brands CEO Cara Sabin of the initiative in a statement. "Through this fund, we are committed to giving back to the communities that have helped us become who we are." For more information on how to apply or to spread the word to entrepreneurs, visit SheaMoisture's Instagram feed.