The National Urban League and PepsiCo, Purchase, N.Y., joined forces to create the Black Restaurant Accelerator, which will boost approximately 500 Black-owned businesses over the next five years. The PepsiCo Foundation is providing a $10 million grant to fund the program, which will provide current and aspiring Black restaurateurs with access to capital, training, mentorship and other support services that are necessary for business success.
Black entrepreneurs have long faced systemic barriers to growth, including access to loans and capital, biased community perceptions and gentrification challenges. These hurdles have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, as demonstrated by the 41 percent of Black-owned businesses that have shuttered since February 2020 compared with just 17 percent of white-owned businesses, citing 2020 data from the University of California – Santa Cruz.
Through National Urban League Entrepreneurship Centers in 12 cities across the United States, the Black Restaurant Accelerator not only will help address these barriers, but also take a long-term view by pairing participants with entrepreneurship advisors and PepsiCo employee volunteers to build an actionable plan for growth.
"This is a game changing program that will provide Black restaurateurs with access to business-building resources tailored to meet their specific needs," said Marc H. Morial, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of National Urban League, in a statement. "Our understanding of the local business environment and community paired with subject matter expertise from PepsiCo team members will give business owners a leg up as they look to grow."
National Urban League will begin accepting applications for the program in the first quarter of 2021. Restaurateurs interested in receiving updates can go here. Learn more about Urban League Entrepreneurship Centers and other workforce development programs by visiting NUL.org.
"This is a key component of the broader investments we're making to bolster Black-owned restaurants and small businesses, which has never been more critical," said Jon Banner, executive vice president for PepsiCo Global Communications and president of the PepsiCo Foundation. "We're honored to build on the important work the National Urban League is doing to diminish the barriers that limit possibilities for Black-owned foodservice businesses and create economic mobility that propels individuals and communities."
The Black Restaurant Accelerator program comes on the heels of recent PepsiCo efforts to advance Black-owned restaurants — enabled by strategic partnerships with industry, nonprofit and grassroots organizations and advocates who share a passion for creating a more equitable industry. The following are examples of those efforts:
- Pathways to Black Franchise Ownership: PepsiCo is a founding sponsor of this long-term initiative to increase the number of Black-owned restaurant franchises in the United States in partnership with the Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance (MFHA). Through curated training and mentoring administered through 4thMVMT, the program aims to create 100 Black-owned businesses by 2022.
- Black Restaurant Week: Pepsi recently signed on as the first-ever national title sponsor of the Black culinary celebration. Together, Black Restaurant Week and Pepsi are celebrating Black culinary tastemakers through events in cities across the country designed to promote Black-owned restaurants to the broader community while stimulating the local economy.
Advisory Council: PepsiCo assembled a body of industry visionaries to provide perspective, serve as a sounding board and advise on solutions for the Black foodservice community. Council members include:
- Restaurant owner and entrepreneur Marcus Davis
- Award-winning writer and author Osayi Endolyn
- Founder + Curator, The Iconoclast Dinner Experience (IDE) Dr. Lezli Levene Harvell
- Celebrity chef, author, CEO & President of DWT Culinary Associates LLC Daniel Thomas
- CEO of The Black upStart Kezia Williams
These efforts are part of the $400 million commitment PepsiCo made over the next five years to advance racial equality within the company, industry and the communities it serves.