NAACP investment in Hello Alice in unprecedented model to help black entrepreneurs

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Kim Roxie can be found dancing on a Facebook Live video while teaching viewers how to apply her makeup products or promoting them at every opportunity across the country. It is part of a new social media campaign and hashtag – #BlackFashionMovement – developed to promote and support black-owned businesses.

Roxie is also one of the founding users of Hello Alice, a free online platform founded by two Latin women and considered by Forbes magazine to be the first machine learning technology to help business owners find opportunities and opportunities. personalized resources to grow.

As the owner of makeup and merchandising company LAMIK Beauty, Houstonian Roxie has moved the business she founded in 2004 from a physical store to her own online store. And now, after surviving the economic uncertainties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, she is celebrating the launch of her products at one of the largest online beauty stores in the world.

For many black entrepreneurs, building a small business often never gets past the dream stage due to obstacles, especially access to capital and networking opportunities.

To change the inequalities affecting black entrepreneurs, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People recently announced a partial ownership acquisition in Hello Alice.

NAACP Chairman Derrick Johnson called the purchase “the first of its kind” and “a critical step in putting black businesses at the forefront of the economy.”

The NAACP empowerment programs have taken the unprecedented step of joining as co-owner of Hello Alice precisely as a creative way to address “the long-standing economic inequalities that have left black communities underfunded and under-funded. – valued for centuries, ”Johnson said.

The partnership is innovative and unprecedented between the country’s oldest civil rights organization and a private company to achieve a social goal, the organization said.

“This partnership is particularly important in the state of Texas, which is home to the second largest concentration of black-owned businesses in the United States,” Johnson said.

“You don’t expect the NAACP to buy (part of) a business,” Roxie said.

Although black women are entrepreneurs eager to open businesses at a faster pace than most communities, Roxie said, “We are underfunded, we need resources, our community needs support around. our companies “.

Black businesses have historically faced inequality and what some experts call systemic racism in the financial system. Black-owned businesses are half as likely as white-owned businesses to obtain bank funds, according to a US Federal Reserve report.

However, “perceptions of bank processing are also holding them back,” according to a 2020 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. His report says black entrepreneurs ask for fewer bank loans than their white counterparts, even when they have good credit records, in large part because they expect to be turned down.

Hello Alice also wants to change the disparities that hold back entrepreneurs, said firm co-founder Carolyn Rodz, a Houstonian of Bolivian origin.

“We formed the company because we wanted to make sure there was diversity in small businesses (and) we’ve been fighting for equality in small businesses since the day we launched” in 2017, said said Rodz. “Bringing the NAACP to our ceiling table is another example for us to say, look, this is really critical and important from a mission perspective. “

About two-thirds of Hello Alice are members of minority populations. Forty-four percent of its users are black entrepreneurs and 67 percent are female owners, Rodz said.

“These are the groups of entrepreneurs who are not supported, who are not represented, who do not have access to it,” she said.

On Hello Alice, users start by creating a profile about their business and the artificial intelligence platform guides them in finding personalized resources, networking opportunities and mentors.

Prior to its investment in Hello Alice, the NAACP partnered with Hello Alice to create the Black-owned Business Resource Center. The page compiles capital and networking opportunities for black and brown entrepreneurs.

The partnership was successful in rolling out $ 4 million in grants from the NAACP’s empowerment programs to small business owners during the pandemic, Rodz said.

Rodz noted that the platform also helps small businesses use grants intelligently. “Every time we give out a grant, or whenever someone requests it, they get a whole bunch of related services and expertise, all for free. “

For Roxie, a small business owner, being a Hello Alice user has been a huge support to her business, including a $ 10,000 development grant.

“It’s a good partnership… being in Hello Alice makes me feel like a community,” said Roxie. “I’ve been supported, and we’re talking, we’re collaborating with other business owners out there. It’s been good for me.

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