With so many companies vocalizing their support for the #BlackLivesMatter movement, it’s so easy to jump on the band wagon and post a blackout photo on social media and then go about your day. However, what really matters is taking action. If you’re a business owner, partaking in the 15% Pledge is the one thing you can do to help black-owned startups and entrepreneurs.
What is the 15% Pledge?
The 15% Pledge is a promise to buy at least 15% of products from black-owned businesses. This new movement was started by Aurora James, founder of Brother Vellies. Brother Vellies is a Brooklyn based brand that aims to keep African traditions alive by specializing in sustainable handcrafted accessories. According to Aurora, 15% of the population is African American, so it is only fair that they occupy 15% of shelf space. On May 29th, Aurora took to Instagram to make the following statement:
“I am asking you to commit to buying 15% of your products from Black owned businesses…
“So many of your businesses are built on Black spending power. So many of your stores are set up in Black communities. So many of your sponsored posts are seen on Black feeds. This is the least you can do for us. We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space...
“Whole Foods if you were to sign on to this pledge, it could immediately drive much needed support to Black farmers. Banks will be forced to take them seriously because they will be walking in with major purchase orders from Whole Foods. Investors for the very first time will start actively seeking them out. Small businesses can turn into bigger ones. Real investment will start happening in Black businesses which will subsequently be paid forward into our Black communities…
“Dont get me wrong, I understand the complexities of this request. I am a business Woman. I have sold millions of dollars of product over the years at a business I started with $3,500 at a flea market. So I am telling you we can get this figured out. This is an opportunity. It is your opportunity to get in the right side of this...
“So for all of the ‘what can we do to help?’ questions out there, this is my personal answer. #15PercentPledge.
“I will get texts that this is crazy. I will get phone calls that this is too direct, too big of an ask, too this, too that. But I don’t think it’s too anything, in fact I think it’s just a start. You want to be an ally? This is what I’m asking for.”
Taking the 15% Pledge
After Target declared they would donate $10M to stand against racial injustice, Aurora James called out the retail giant on Instagram, claiming African Americans spend more money than that at Target in a single day. According to Aurora, supporting the Black Lives Matter movement is about more than just making donations. It’s about committing to long-term investments in black-owned businesses.
Last week Sephora became the first retailer to sign the 15% Pledge. While only 7% of Sephora’s nearly 300 brands are from black-owned companies, Sephora is also changing the focus of its Accelerate program to support black founders. Accelerate is dedicated to building a community of innovative female founders in beauty through funding and coaching. With giant shifts like this being made in big name companies, it brings hope that more businesses will help deconstruct the racial injustices that prevent entrepreneurs of color from flourishing in their industries.
Will you partake in the 15% Pledge? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.