Yelp isn’t just connecting people with local businesses, but they’re equipping Black-owned banks with the funds needed to support the communities they serve.
On Dec. 15, the company announced it has deposited $10 million of its cash reserves into minority-owned financial institutions that support Black and underserved communities.
Those institutions include Citizens Savings Bank and Trust Company (Citizens Savings Bank), Broadway Federal Bank (Broadway), and Carver Federal Savings Bank (Carver).
According to The Wall Street Journal, 15 years ago America had 36 Black-owned banks. Today government data shows this number has decreased to only 18.
“We recognize that the distribution of financial capital is not equitable in the United States, particularly in Black communities, and we know we have a role to play to support a more equitable financial system,” said Yelp’s Chief Financial Officer, David Schwarzbach. “We’re committed to making financial capital available to low-and moderate-income communities and to Black business owners who have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. This is why we’re depositing $10 million of Yelp’s cash reserves into these three Black-owned financial institutions to support home ownership and local businesses across the communities they serve.”
All three of the banks included in the new initiative are certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI). This designation is given by the CDFI Fund to specialized organizations that provide financial services in low-income communities and to people who lack access to financing.
“Local businesses are the lifeblood of our communities and something we deeply care about at Yelp,” Senior Vice President of Engagement, Diversity and Belonging, Miriam Warren told AfroTech. “The pandemic has wreaked havoc on many small businesses and while many have proven their resiliency and innovated to provide new services, many still don’t have access to the capital they need. By supporting Minority-owned financial institutions, we are supporting a more equitable financial system. “
In June, during the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests after the murder of George Floyd by police, Yelp put a policy into effect that would alert consumers if a business had been accused of racism. This new initiative is a continuation of a commitment to showing the world their stance in the fight against racism which also hits Black Americans on the financial level.
“Looking at this past summer, when we thought about what we could do as a company to leverage our platform, we considered our unique place in the business community,” Warren said. “We created business attributes and pursued partnerships. We also considered how we could further support building Black economic power. Working with these financial institutions creates more opportunity for Black business owners. This initiative is part of Yelp’s overall commitment (announced June 2020) to support the Black community and Black-owned businesses. Our commitment to change can’t just be measured by representation alone. We look forward to continuing to use our platform to raise awareness, promote economic opportunity and support our local communities.”
Banks like Carver have also been working tirelessly to support the communities that they serve throughout the pandemic providing about $35 million in access to capital for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program and preserving more than 3,500 jobs, per Yelp’s press release.
It is imperative that companies like Yelp continue to put action behind diversity and inclusion for minorities across America through access to funds like this. Our hope is that this will encourage more corporations to do the same.