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News Briefs Women Entrepreneurs

Women of Color Small Business Owners Face Major Loss During The Pandemic

For the past year, crisis after crisis relentlessly challenged communities and impacted people’s livelihoods. These events hit women of color especially hard. New research from Caress and IFundWomen of Color shows the COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened these gaps. Nearly 70 percent of women of color small business owners surveyed saw their revenue diminish in 2020. These business owners saw an average 47 percent decline.

In partnership with IFundWomen of Color, Caress unveiled new data revealing the challenges women of color small business owners face during COVID-19. The data was unveiled at the Caress x IFundWomen of Color Virtual Summit.

The half-day virtual summit unmasked the collective barriers to success including lack of resources and navigating systems of inequity. At the same time, it helped entrepreneurs through a series of learning sessions and fireside chats led by women in leadership. This includes Esi Eggleston Bracey, EVP & COO NA Beauty and Personal Care, Unilever.

Impact on women of color small business owners

Financial support was amongst the biggest challenges cited in the research report, which was addressed in the virtual summit. While some businesses found respite and access to federal funding to keep their businesses afloat, many women of color-owned small businesses continued to struggle. 81 percent did not receive emergency government assistance to support their business in 2020.  49 percent relied on their personal savings. 

“Women of color and their businesses have suffered disproportionately during this pandemic and receiving grants and aid through federal relief programs has been challenging for many,” said Esi Eggleston Bracey, EVP & COO North American Beauty and Personal Care, Unilever. “Last year, through our partnership with IFundWomen of Color, Caress committed $1,000,000 to support women of color entrepreneurs over the next two years. Immediate relief went directly towards small businesses impacted by economic strain due to COVID-19 and the biases of systemic racism. This new research proves how imperative it is to continue to support women of color entrepreneurs through their journey. We’re proud to use the Caress x IFundWomen of Color Virtual Summit. The platform creates a space of equity and drives an important conversation.”

Remaining hopeful

Despite the challenges faced, women of color small business owners are hopeful. 60 percent of women of color business owners expect revenues to improve this year. 73 percent of businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic believe that they will recover by Spring 2022. 

Most of the women surveyed cite community support, access to education and funding as the main drivers for recovery. 

“COVID-19 has hit women of color-owned small businesses hard, but we’re optimistic they can and will recover. Through IFundWomen’s partnership with Caress, we’re proud to continue offering our growing community of diverse entrepreneurs access to capital through crowdfunding and grants, expert business coaching and connections to follow-on capital, collaborators and new partnerships,” said Olivia Owens, Creator and General Manager of IFundWomen of Color. “While 70 percent of women surveyed say the support of their peers was crucial to starting or maintaining their business in 2020, two in five feel disconnected from other women of color entrepreneurs. They do not have people in their day-to-day network to collaborate with and problem-solve. The goal of the virtual summit, as well as one of our overarching goals of IFundWomen of Color, was to offer a space for women to cultivate meaningful conversations. Forming relationships helps them advance.”  

For more information on the Caress and IFundWomen of Color partnership, including COVID-19 relief grants and the Dream to Reality Fund, please visit ifundwomen.com/woc.

About Caress


Caress, a U.S. Unilever beauty brand and trusted name for more than 30 years. Offering an exceptional variety, Caress beauty bars and body washes leave your skin feeling instantly moisturized. They are paired with exquisite fragrances so women can have it all. Caress has been committed to creating products that turn every shower into a fully immersive sensorial experience – moments that are proven to spur creativity. It’s what inspires Caress’ belief that no great idea should go down the drain. Caress is committed to helping women, particularly women of color, take their ideas from dreams to reality. Visit www.caress.us for more information.

About IFundWomen of Color


Launched in January 2020, IFundWomen of Color is a platform dedicated to advancing BIPOC entrepreneurs through access to capital, coaching and lucrative connections specifically needed for women of color to launch and grow successful businesses. After its first year in existence, IFundWomen of Color leveled the funding field across the IFundWomen platform. Learn more at www.IFundWomen.com/woc

About Unilever North America


Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care and Foods & Refreshment products. It sells in over 190 countries and has products used by 2.5 billion people every day. It generated sales of €50.7 billion in 2020. Over half of our footprint is in developing and emerging markets. It has around 400 brands found in homes all over the world. In the United States and Canada, the portfolio includes iconic brand such as: Dove, Knorr, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Magnum, Axe, Ben & Jerry’s, Degree, Dollar Shave Club, Q-tips, Seventh Generation, St. Ives, Suave, TRESemmé and Vaseline.

Its vision is to be the global leader in sustainable business and to demonstrate how a purpose-led, future-fit business model drives superior performance. Unilever has a long tradition of being a progressive, responsible business. It goes back to the days of founder William Lever, who launched the world’s first purposeful brand, Sunlight Soap, more than 100 years ago.

The Unilever Compass, a sustainable business strategy, delivers superior performance and drive sustainable and responsible growth, while: 

  • improving the health of the planet; 
  • improving people’s health, confidence and wellbeing; and 
  • contributing to a fairer and more socially inclusive world. 

While there is still more to do, Unilever is proud to have been recognized in 2020 as a sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and – for the tenth-consecutive year – as the top ranked company in the 2020 GlobeScan/SustainAbility Sustainability Leaders survey.