Hollywood mogul Issa Rae is always rooting for everybody Black, and today is no different as she pushes for all Black-owned businesses to officially certify their brands through a newly-launched program.

According to a press release shared with AfroTech, the producer and actress is supporting American Express and the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.’s (USBC) joint effort to expand their ByBlack initiative with the launch of the “first national certification program exclusively for Black-ownership designation.”

Photo Credit: American Express

The free first-of-its-kind platform — which was designed as a directory for Black-owned businesses — will now offer Black business-owners the opportunity to easily obtain approved accreditation that their customers and other companies can trust when spending with them.

“We are thrilled to team up with the USBC to expand the ByBlack platform,” Jessica Ling — senior vice president of Global B2B Marketing at American Express — tells AfroTech. “Seventy-five percent of corporations source diverse suppliers through certification programs – yet there is no nationally recognized, free, widely available program out there specifically for Black-owned business certification. As we have seen countless corporations pledge to diversify spending with Black-owned businesses to help address inequalities, we believe this is a way to put action behind those pledges.”

“ByBlack not only helps Black-owned businesses access opportunities for growth that come with accreditation, but it also helps large organizations, such as American Express, fulfill commitments to spend with these businesses,” she adds. “We plan to increase spending with Black-owned suppliers to at least $100 million annually by the end of 2024 and encourage other companies to join us in leveraging the ByBlack platform.”

How The ByBlack Certification Program Is Making A Difference

USBC President Ron Busby tells AfroTech that the new program will provide new benefits and opportunities for Black-owned businesses in America to continue growing and flourishing.

“As the first certification for Black-owned businesses that aims to be recognized by many large corporations, ByBlack is shining a spotlight on Black-owned businesses — allowing them to unlock more ways to reach new customers and more contract opportunities,” he says.

With support from someone of Rae’s caliber, the hope is that she can help encourage her large audience of potential Black business-owners to certify their business just as she’s done with hers (Sienna Naturals).

Photo Credit: Ashley Nguyen

“We have only scratched the surface of the collective power of Black businesses, so I am excited to join American Express and the USBC to shine a light on the opportunities ByBlack presents,” she said in a statement. “ByBlack is a powerful platform that connects Black business owners with new revenue streams and helps all of us find and shop at standout businesses. Together, we can spread the word to support small Black businesses.”

How To Apply

To qualify for the no-cost certification process, businesses must provide proof that their business is 51 percent Black-owned, and also controlled by a Black business-owner. An online application must also be filled out to be processed and certified within about 30 days. Additionally, businesses can be listed on the ByBlack directory by registering and creating a profile to have their brands recognized.

Some companies that have already begun acknowledging the certification program, including Uber and Verizon, with hopes of that list growing in the near future. This new initiative is part of the USBC and American Express’ larger efforts to support Black-owned businesses, as well as the latter’s commitment to support diverse representation and provide equal opportunties to all.

For more information about the ByBlack certification program, click here.