There was a celebration for Fiserv’s $1 million dollar multi-year commitment to support local Black businesses at the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (RICE) on December 14.

At the event, nine local Black owned businesses that have benefitted from RICE programming and Fiserv support were featured. Each business received $1,000 from Fiserv to pay for the product provided to attendees for free.

RICE is a community driven center with over 50,000 square feet of space to provide educational, networking, mentoring and capital resources for small business owners and entrepreneurs. 

RICE president and CEO Jay Bailey said the partnership with Fiserv came to fruition after meeting Fiserv Senior Vice President and Head of Global Corporate Citizenship Vivian Greentree while speaking at a metro Atlanta chamber meeting. 

(Photo Credit: Bria Suggs/The Atlanta Voice)

“I was just talking about the possibility of what we’re building at the Russell Center,” Bailey said. “And from that day, we became good friends. And from those conversations evolved a million dollar partnership.”

RICE will be using the $1 million from Fiserv to update it’s newly named Fiserv Symposium, which is a 150 seat auditorium and innovation space. The money will also fund programmatic support for RICE’s custom curriculum for entrepreneurs called Big IDEAS Learning Continuum.

Fiserv is an international fintech company that serves consumers, merchants, corporations and governments. The company enables the movement of money and information for millions of people on behalf of thousands of financial institutions and millions of businesses around the world. 

With an office in Alpharetta, Fiserv has around 5,000 out of the 50,000 employees around the world working in the Atlanta metro area.

(Photo Credit: Bria Suggs/The Atlanta Voice)

“So when we thought about the grants, we wanted to make sure that we focus on the communities in which we work and live,” Fiserv Vice President of Sales Leslie Pearce said. “So as opposed to just doing a check writing exercise, let’s have a national campaign.”

Pearce was tasked with finding a way to figure out how to give away a $10 million pledge from CEO Frank Bisignano through the Back2Business campaign. Her and her team did so well that $10 million became $50 million. 

Since 2020, more than 950 minority-owned small businesses across the U.S. and U.K. have received grants and support from Fiserv to keep serving their communities. The program provides grants, coaching and access to technology for recipients.

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Bria Suggs became a General Assignment Reporter for The Atlanta Voice in August 2021. In 2019, she earned 2nd place for Best Entertainment Story at GCPA. In SEJC's 2020 Best of the South Awards, she placed...