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As Black History Month comes to a close and Women’s History Month begins, Visa has announced a new program to support Black- and women-owned small businesses across the U.S. The locally focused program will consist of grants and mentorship, educational and technology resources and direct community relationships in partnership with Black Girl Ventures.

Notably, according to the company’s data, more than a third of Black-owned businesses in the country are headed by women — making it the highest share of any racial or ethnic group.

The Visa grant program is committing $1 million to extend grants and mentorship programs to Black women entrepreneurs, and addressing the markets with the highest concentration of Black-owned businesses, will focus on Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, D.C.

Applications for Visa’s grant program are open to Black women entrepreneurs today.

“The pandemic has impacted all small businesses — but those run by women and people of color have been disproportionately affected,” said Kimberly Lawrence, head of U.S. at Visa. “With this hyper-local focus on some of the hardest-hit cities, Visa aims to make a meaningful difference, quickly, for the communities and their business owners who need it most.”

Additionally, in an effort to drive business to small businesses, Visa’s program includes a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign to encourage consumers to support Black and women entrepreneurs. The six-city campaign will run throughout 2021. And through its new partnership with Black Girl Ventures, Visa will be working with local organizations to reach small businesses to work with owners on identifying the most pressing technology needs and providing them with the products and education they need to succeed.

“Black Girl Ventures is proud to partner with Visa on both not only financially assisting these entrepreneurs, but on providing a megaphone to each community’s most pressing needs,” said Shelly Bell, founder, Black Girl Ventures. “While the Black Lives Matter movement elevated consumer support of these businesses, the movement must continue to lift up these neighborhoods financially and spiritually.”

On March 25, Visa will host the first in a series of events to celebrate the Black community and women entrepreneurs. The virtual event, called “She’s Next 2021,” will be hosted in partnership with The Female Quotient, a female-owned business committed to advancing equality, and will feature “inspiring women and men who will discuss their personal experiences and the necessary work ahead to champion, educate and inspire the Black community and women business owners.”

For More WWD Business News: 

Visa’s Latest Report Makes Recommendations for Recovery and Resilience

Amex Announces $1M in Grants to Support Historic Small Restaurants

Verizon and Deloitte Announce Collaboration to Bring 5G to Retail

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