This weekend, Square announced the launch of Forward. Forward is a business accelerator program to help Black and Latino retail entrepreneurs get the capital, coaching, and products they need.
Business owners of color are currently leading America’s entrepreneurship boom. In 2022, America received over 5 million new business applications. Among that number, Black and Latino Americans opened more businesses than any other group. However, Black and Latino business owners still face systemic barriers. This prevents long-term success and leads to higher closure rates.
According to a Square report, raising capital is Hispanic businesses’ most common problem. To address these issues, Forward will support 25 early-stage businesses. These companies will receive $20,000 in funding with exclusive access to business training. In addition, business training is from 1863 Ventures, a brand providing culturally competent business curricula. Training topics will include leadership, customer development, scaling operations, and managing financial growth.
The first business owners will receive Square checking and savings accounts and hardware. They will also work with coaches individually to discuss their business needs. Program mentors include actress and activist Rosario Dawson and best-selling author and CEO of Sweet July Ayesha Curry. Business owners can also work with financial advisors and podcasters Rashad Bilal and Troy Millings.
NBA Champion and entrepreneur Dwyane Wade, one of the program’s mentors, said they launched a social change fund to create a more fair and equitable society. He also said partnering with Square to launch Forward ensures they meet their goals and help business owners of color. The former Miami Heat guard said he understood the importance of starting with the right tools as a business owner.
The Global Head of Customer Success for Square, Naomi Wheeless, said that Square will focus on giving entrepreneurs of color the best survival tools through forward. This is because Square succeeds when its sellers succeed.
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