Hello Alice, a platform helping small businesses launch and grow in America, announced that 2022 will be the Year of Small Business, a movement in partnership with NAACP, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) and Mastercard. The Year of Small Business (YOSB) will open up equitable access to capital, direct consumer spending toward small business owners and provide business education, networks and opportunities to three million small business owners.
Helping businesses nationwide
As small business owners continue to experience lasting challenges brought on by the pandemic, optimism remains high. The Year of Small Business movement will support and strengthen small businesses in all 50 states and across industries. It aims to ignite public support over the next 12 months and encourage every American to buy small.
“Small business owners are the backbone of our economy. It’s time for all of us to buy small and bring our neighbor’s businesses back online,” said Elizabeth Gore, co-founder and president of Hello Alice. “Along with our partners NAACP, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, GEN, and Mastercard, we’re committed to providing every necessary resource, including additional access to funding, educational accelerators, and more.”
Surveying business owners
In a recent Hello Alice study of over 400,000 small business owners, at least 30 percent of those surveyed list funding as their greatest business challenge. Black and multiracial owners reported it at the highest rates. With a focus on the New Majority – people of color, women, LGBTQ+, entrepreneurs with disabilities and our U.S. Veterans – the YOSB initiative will include a grants program with a goal to distribute $30,000,000 in grants. This will utilize Hello Alice’s best-in-class grants administration process and wraparound services.
“Everyone should have the same opportunity to start and grow their own business – but whether you look at long-standing systemic barriers or more recent global challenges, that just isn’t the case,” said Jonathan Ortmans, founder and president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network. “We are excited about this partnership and the support it will provide will allow small businesses to not only survive but to thrive in a post-pandemic economy.”
The Year of Small Business will feature opportunities to support and spotlight small business owners throughout the year, including:
The Year of Small Business Growth Accelerator
- Held four times per year, the accelerator is a 45-day program. It includes a 3-day intensive workshop, access to topical experts and entrepreneurs with real-world experience and tactical guidance to advance small businesses. Each cohort supports 2,500 diverse entrepreneurs, divided into small groups for a personalized, hands-on experience supported by a growth-focused curriculum. Fast Company named Hello Alice’s accelerator program “the number one accelerator for diverse entrepreneurs.”
Corporate SMB Education and Data Series
- Twelve virtual sessions will convene up to 50 corporate executives. They will share data and best practices on how enterprises can help small businesses through supplier diversity, stronger procurement and small business grants.
The Year of Small Business Awards
- The national awards program highlights outstanding top small business owners based on innovation, contributions to society, growth, and more. They are awarded to New Majority award categories including Hispanic, Black, U.S. Veteran, LGBTQ+, Entrepreneurs with Disabilities and more. All applicants receive access to mentorship, tools and education through the Year of Small Business. They will receive these perks whether or not they receive an award. Applications will be accepted in Q2. Additional details to follow.
The Year of Small Business National Summit
- The three-day event in February 2023, will convene hundreds of New Majority small business owners, corporate executives and media. It will include educational tracks, media spotlights and interactive workshops led by best-in-class experts. Small business owners will receive resources to advance their growth and pay it forward in their own communities.
Small Business Growth Fund
- Hello Alice and its partners are committing $30M in grants to small business owners. This money will meet their immediate needs while having a long-term impact. Unlike other sources of capital, the grants require no payback. They immediately address working capital constraints, serving as a critical financial bridge for owners to re-open, re-invent and re-create the capacity to power sustainable growth.
“Mastercard is committed to empowering small businesses with digital solutions, data insights and tools to support their sustainable growth, and amplify the role they play as the lifeblood of our economy,” said Ginger Siegel, North America Small Business Lead at Mastercard. “We’re proud to partner with Hello Alice on the Year of Small Business to broaden our collective impact and celebrate the small business community.”
Impact on minority groups
In a survey of 2,800 Black owners on the Hello Alice platform, no group is more optimistic in expectation of growth than Black business owners. Eighty-four percent predict growth in 2022, but they continue to be faced with the challenge of raising capital. Thirty-four percent of Black entrepreneurs surveyed cited this as their primary obstacle.
“Without a doubt, Black-owned small business owners continue to endure disproportionate barriers. This includes a lack of access to funding. COVID-19 has only worsened these obstacles,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP. “What makes small business ownership so essential is that it provides a means of generating long-term, multi-generational wealth. Extending support to small businesses today can help bridge the racial wealth gap now and into the future.”
In addition to raising capital, Hispanic owners cite challenges such as acquiring customers, hiring and operating their business at rates significantly higher than other groups.
“Small businesses create two of every three jobs in America. They need our support now more than ever,” said Ramiro A. Cavazos, President & CEO, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC). Each one of us has a role to play to support our local small businesses, especially our five million Hispanic-owned businesses who have been hit hard.”
Additional data from the recent report shows small business owners remain positive about the future despite the challenges. Seventy-nine percent of owners are optimistic that their business will grow in 2022. Only two percent are expecting their performance to worsen in the new year. Fifty-five percent of companies plan to hire this year.
For small business owners, organizations, and corporations interested in getting involved in the Year of Small Business, please visit https://helloalice.com/the-year-of-small-business/.
About Hello Alice
Hello Alice is a free, multichannel platform that helps businesses launch and grow. It includes a community of nearly 600,000 business owners in all 50 states and across the globe. Hello Alice is building the largest network of owners in the country. It is also tracking data and trends to increase the success rate for entrepreneurs. Our partners include enterprise business services, government agencies and institutions looking to serve small- and medium-business owners to ensure increased revenues and promote scale. Hello Alice is a Latina-owned company, founded by Carolyn Rodz and Elizabeth Gore. We believe in business for all by providing access to all owners including women, people of color, veterans and everyone with an entrepreneurial spirit.
About The NAACP
The NAACP began in 1909 in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country. It is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation. We have over 2,200 units and branches across the nation, along with well over 2M activists. Our mission is to secure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons.
NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund – also referred to as the NAACP-LDF was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP. However, in 1957 it separated to become a completely separate entity. It is recognized as the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and shares our commitment to equal rights.
About The United States Hispanic Chamber Of Commerce
The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) actively promotes the economic growth, development and interests of five million Hispanic-owned businesses. Combined, these businesses contribute over $800 billion to the American economy every year. The USHCC is America’s largest small business advocacy group. It represents more than 260 local chambers and business associations nationwide. It also partners with hundreds of major American corporations.
Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. We have connections across more than 210 countries and territories. Together, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.
About Global Entrepreneurship Network
The Global Entrepreneurship Network operates a platform of projects and programs in 180 countries aimed at making it easier for anyone anywhere to start and scale a business. By fostering deeper cross-border collaboration and initiatives between entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and entrepreneurial support organizations, GEN works to fuel healthier entrepreneurial ecosystems that create jobs, accelerate innovation and strengthen economic growth.