Pharrell Williams is teaming up with fashion house Chanel to take his nonprofit organization to the next level.
As previously reported by AfroTech, the super-producer and entrepreneur launched his nonprofit, Black Ambition, back in December to help support underserved entrepreneurs with startups across tech, design, healthcare and consumer products/services.
According to Complex, now he’s upping the stakes with Chanel by launching a two-part mentorship program in addition to sponsoring two competitions this summer with prizes for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs as well as emerging talent from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
“Chanel’s support of Black Ambition is a cornerstone of Black Ambition’s mission and is vital to the success of the next generation of Black and Latinx entrepreneurs,” Williams said in a statement, “to honor their commitment to investing in human potential and advancing greater representation in culture and society, Chanel has put together an amazing panel of women to talk about leadership through a woman’s lens.”
The first phase of Black Ambition’s partnership with Chanel includes an industry panel of today’s leading businesswomen in a conversation titled “Women Who Lead,” Vanity Fair reports. The panel includes Tracee Ellis Ross, Edith Cooper, Emma Grede and Natalie Massenet and will be moderated by Harper’s Bazaar’s Editor-in-Chief, Samira Nasr.
The second phase of the partnership will focus on a “comprehensive mentorship program” to help participants understand how to run a business. Program participants will take part in a series of interactive workshops, where prize finalists will have access to the Chanel leadership community and the brand’s network of experts to teach them brand building skills essential to today’s business landscape.
Additionally, Black Ambition will be hosting the Black Ambition HBCU Prize — a competition offering a range of awards and mentorship opportunities to current and former HBCU students for their business ideas — as well as the Black Ambition Prize — a competition that will award its winner up to $1 million to financially-support any startup within the nonprofit’s areas of focus.
When Williams founded Black Ambition, he had a clear vision to fill a void for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs where he believed there was a “lack of visibility, lack of audition and lack of empathy.” He wanted to amplify the voices of these business-owners and give them a bigger piece of the “American pie” to even the playing field.
“We felt like if we could make life in the business world more equitable for African Americans than certainly we will have the voice, and more of an influence on culture,” he told Vanity Fair.
By partnering with Chanel, Williams and the fashion brand want to promote a message that “represents their effort to stand on the right side of history” saying “it’s more moral than corporate” as the producer put it. Their efforts now are to help nurture the next generation of business leaders by providing them with the tools for success.
In addition to his work with Black Ambition, Williams is also looking to rectify justice in his home state by building new private schools for underprivileged students in Virginia.