The Fifteen Percent Pledge Achievement Award

Supporting Black Entrepreneurs

Black entrepreneurs start their business with about $35,000 of capital, while white entrepreneurs start with 3x more. As a partial consequence, Black-owned businesses report higher levels of debt relative to revenues.

Too often, these and other barriers lead to shortfalls: just 4 percent of Black-owned businesses are still in operation after three and a half years, compared with an average of 55.5 percent for all businesses.**

Over the past two and a half years, the Fifteen Percent Pledge has been working alongside major corporations to re-evaluate their organizational structures, funding streams and supply chains with the goal of creating greater equity for Black businesses. To date, 29 corporations have made long-term contractual commitments to support this work, creating the potential to shift more than $10B to Black businesses.

Still, there’s much more work to do to create supportive ecosystems for Black entrepreneurs, who continue to face tremendous hurdles when it comes to accessing capital to grow and thrive. We are busy activating a network of partners including banks, investors, foundations, and corporations to address this problem at scale.

In the meantime, we’re providing a $200,000 grant to unlock the next horizon of growth for a Black-owned business. Two additional finalists will also receive $35,000 and $15,000. Awardees will be announced in person at our 2023 Benefit Gala in February.

**Sources: Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research “Black and white: Access to capital among minority-owned startups”, February 2017; McKinsey’s Institute for Black Economic Mobility, “The Black unicorn: Changing the game for inclusivity in retail”, November 2021

Apply Now

Application Process + Timeline

Applicants must first create, update, or complete their business profile in our Business Equity Community in order to access award application questions. The application will consist primarily of video responses, and it will be open for four weeks. A review committee will select semi-finalists, and the winner will be selected through public voting.

November 14

Application opens

Application opens

December 31

Application closes at 11.59PM ET

Application closes at 11.59PM ET

January 16

Ten semi-finalists announced. Public voting begins

February 4

Winner will be announced at the Fifteen Percent Pledge's 2023 Gala

Winner will be announced at the Fifteen Percent Pledge's 2023 Gala

Eligibility Criteria

  • Member of the Fifteen Percent Pledge's Business Equity Community [Click the 'Apply' link below to join]
  • Business sells a product and has annual revenue of $250K or more
  • Black-owned: At least one self-identifying Black person with 50% or more equity in the company
  • Has between 3-15 employees, including the founder
  • Fosters inclusivity and showcases community impact by pushing against systemic infrastructures that have not prioritized unique consumer needs
Apply Now

Frequently Asked Questions

Black-owned businesses that sell products to consumers for their own use or enjoyment. This includes food, beverages, cosmetics, cleaning products, clothing, shoes, accessories, and home decor.

Simply click on the ‘Apply’ button above to create a profile in our Community and complete supplemental award application questions.

Finalists will be notified through the main contact email provided in the Business Equity Community profile.

Three finalists will receive cash awards.


We do not accept product samples during the call for applications. 

The information you provide will be available to the Fifteen Percent Pledge team and members of the review committee only. Please note that they all sign our Non-Disclosure Agreement.  

Sure, but your business must be based in the United States or have a legal presence here.

It may be subject to taxation. Payment of all and any taxes in relation to the cash award is the sole responsibility of the award winner.


We will not accept any applications after the deadline. 




Are you are a founder, venture capitalist, corporate employee, or other leader who wants to invest or contribute to funding a grant for a Black business owner?

Individuals can also donate here to support the Pledge's general operations and long-term organizational growth.

About the Fifteen Percent Pledge

The Fifteen Percent Pledge is a racial equity and economic justice non-profit organization addressing the inequities that exist throughout the American consumer economy and working towards closing the racial wealth gap. In recognition that Black people in the U.S. compromise nearly 15% of the population, the Fifteen Percent Pledge calls on major retailers and corporations to commit a minimum of 15% of their shelf space, sales revenue, and annual spend to support Black-owned businesses. In 2022, the Pledge was the recipient of Fast Company's Most Innovative Company of the Year Award.