The Black Restaurant Accelerator (BRA), a joint initiative of the National Urban League and the PepsiCo Foundation, today marked the milestone of its first 100 grant recipients with the soft opening of a new restaurant, made possible by the program.
Part of PepsiCo’s $400 million Racial Equality Journey commitments, the BRA is a five-year, $10 million investment from the PepsiCo Foundation in partnership with the National Urban League to preserve and support Black-owned restaurants.
The program has been a lifeline for many across the nation who continue to experience the impact of the pandemic, according to a press release. A shining example of the progress that grant recipients in 11 other cities have made with the BRA’s support, Vaucresson Sausage Co. — which has operated throughout three generations in the historic Seventh Ward since 1899 and is the last remaining food vendor to have served the inaugural New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival — will launch Vaucresson Creole Café and Deli. This business expansion breathes new life into a century and a quarter of New Orleans’ Creole tradition.
Fellow Louisiana establishments include Addis Nola, Beaucoup Eats, Ray’s on The Avenue and Taste and See Personal Chef Services. Nationwide, 100 restaurateurs used the $10,000 grants to:
– Save more than 60 jobs and hire staff.
– Expand their businesses by opening new locations.
– Grow their businesses with by taking actions like upgrading or procuring delivery vehicles, investing in kitchen equipment, setting up outdoor seating amid COVID regulations, launching marketing efforts including digital platforms to reach more consumers.
In addition to supporting 100 restaurants with grants, 400 additional Black-owned restaurants were provided with support including:
– 1,150 counseling and 1,185 training sessions to provide resources needed to grow their businesses.
– Approximately $1.6 million of financing and contract opportunities.
– Creating 14 new business ventures.
“Black-owned businesses are the beating heart of our communities. We’ve supported small businesses for decades and watched how they create jobs, inspire new enterprises, and establish legacies for generations,” said Marc H. Morial, president and chief executive officer, National Urban League.
“While the pandemic has deepened disparities that hinder our communities, the impact of this program is a testament to the resilience we can foster when we provide the right support. And we need other members of the business community and policymakers to step up, join us and act with urgency to ensure these entrepreneurs have equitable access to critical resources.”
The pandemic hit Black-owned businesses the hardest, with 58 percent already facing financial distress. According to a University of California, Santa Cruz study, 41 percent of Black-owned businesses have shuttered since February 2020 compared to just 17 percent of white-owned businesses. In New Orleans, many had to make difficult decisions about the future of businesses that have been in their families for generations.
“Investing to ensure Black-owned restaurants survive is critical to enabling communities to thrive,” said C.D. Glin, vice president of the PepsiCo Foundation and global head of philanthropy, PepsiCo.
“Our partnership with the National Urban League and its Entrepreneurship Centers provides comprehensive support in that it provides more than just access to capital but also essential support services that help them reimagine their businesses and make them sustainable for generations.”
“As we welcome back tourists against the backdrop of the cultural events returning to the city, it’s essential to preserve institutions like the Black-owned restaurants,” saidJudy Reese Morse, president and chief executive officer, Urban League of Louisiana.
“The Black Restaurant Accelerator is key to addressing some of the historical challenges and turning the tides as we seek to preserve the businesses that feed the soul of New Orleans.”
As one of the world’s leading convenient food and beverage companies, PepsiCo recognizes the importance of combatting deep-rooted inequity and creating long-term economic opportunities for Black communities. In 2020, PepsiCo launched its Racial Equality Journey, which focuses on three pillars: people, business, and communities. More information can be found here.