Earlier this week, Amazon launched their new Black Business Accelerator program to help build sustainable equity and growth for Black-owned businesses.
The initiative from Amazon is aimed at barriers to access, opportunity and advancement created by systemic racism across America. The initiative was created in partnership with the Black Employee Network and a coalition of strategic partners, according the Amazon release.
The sentiments of the release are echoed by Amazon spokesperson Brandi Neloms who says that it’s “extremely important” for equity in black businesses to be there.
“We are committed to championing Black-owned businesses, knowing they are often locked out of traditional methods of accessing capital, mentorship, and similar economic opportunities,” Neloms said. “They are also significantly underrepresented in retail and have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amazon’s BBA program will provide access to financial assistance, strategic business guidance and mentorship, and marketing and promotional support to help both current and aspiring Black small business owners grow their businesses and maximize the opportunities of selling on Amazon.
Neloms says that half of the things purchased from Amazon’s store are sold by third-party sellers or small and medium-sized businesses.
“Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator aims to drive economic equity for Black entrepreneurs, providing them with resources to thrive as entrepreneurs and business leaders,” Neloms said. “We are optimistic about the potential to help them generate wealth for themselves, their employees, and their communities.”
Among the businesses in the Amazon program is Atlanta’s Compac Industries. Compac Industries is a family-owned business that was purchased by owner Dean-Paul’s father in 1980 after immigrating to the states from Jamaica.
Compac has over 600 products across six brands and was able to expand its team, invest in marketing and continue to increase sales while in the program.
Dean-Paul Hart, President of Compac Industries said that they’re “incredibly honored” to be selected to represent their team, Amazon and Black businesses across the country.
“The training and account management support has been invaluable in helping us to increase our organic search results, drawing more eyes to our brands and products,” Hart said. “Moreover, we look forward to utilizing the additional tools and support as a part of the BBA program. We recently had one of our brands featured with Mindy Kaling via Amazon Live. How cool is it to know that Mindy loves our Better Grillin’ Mop and it is her “go-to tandoori mop.” I have seen some people question why we would sell on Amazon and our answer is always the same. Working with Amazon is in line with our corporate mission – we exist to deliver innovative solutions that make life easier and more enjoyable for people of all ages.
“There is no doubt that Amazon has grown because millions of people shop and visit Amazon each day,” he continued. “Those same people have struggles and problems that we feel our products can resolve. Therefore, the increased opportunity for millions of eyes to potentially see, consider, and allow us to serve them and their families is what we are in business to do.”
Getting into the program was very simple but a slow process. Hart says that his company started small by listing a couple of items but they learned they could list their entire catalog as time moved on.
“Whenever we received a call, email, or met someone looking for our items, Amazon became a quick and easy solution for customers to get products, quickly, all around the world,” Hart said. “You see as time moved on, we expanded our listings and placement to include selling in Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Australia, and Japan. However, as Amazon grew and customers asked for more imagery and improved content and videos, we struggled as a manufacturer that had sold traditional retail to initially adjust to telling stories to sell online.”
Through the last five years, Compac moved intentionally on its operational side and invested in its people and systems. The pandemic was one time where Compac continued to excel with Amazon despite a rough ‘regular’ method of getting products to their customers.
Hart says that their consumers were able to find them online through Amazon.
“Pre-COVID, we shipped 700-1200 orders per month,” Hart said. “Since March 2020, with increased traffic on Amazon, our people, systems, and processes have carried us to ship as many as 10,000 orders in a month. Moreover, we are not only seeing single purchases and never seeing customers again; instead, repeat sales, Subscribe-N-Save, multi-pack promotions, and more mean that we are building a wave of sales to extend beyond 2021.”