The Fifteen Percent Pledge is a US-based non-profit organization that encourages retailers to allocate at least 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses, reflecting the nearly 15% of the US population made up of Black people.
Founded by Aurora James in response to the lack of support for Black-owned businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has since signed 28 major companies, including Macy’s, Sephora, and Gap, effectively diverting over $5 billion in capital to Black entrepreneurs in the United States.
To further support Black-owned businesses, The Fifteen Percent Pledge has created a database called The Black Equity Community, which currently features 1,200 fully vetted Black-owned business owners. This database serves as a resource for both retailers and consumers, allowing them to explore and support Black-owned businesses. The number of businesses in the database is expected to double by the end of the year.
The organization also offers business development strategies and conducts audits to ensure participating companies are meeting their pledge commitments.
Within six months of taking the pledge, brands have at least doubled the number of Black-owned businesses on their shelves. For instance, Sephora has already hit its 15% target in the haircare category and launched a 2021 incubator program for BIPOC beauty entrepreneurs.
Despite the progress made, the Fifteen Percent Pledge acknowledges that there is still much work to be done. The organization plans to announce new partnerships and resources for Black entrepreneurs in the coming months, as well as release a consumer-facing version of the database to help individuals dedicate 15% of their monthly budget to Black-owned enterprises.
As more companies join the pledge and support Black-owned businesses, the Fifteen Percent Pledge aims to create sustainable and supportive ecosystems for these businesses to succeed, ultimately working towards racial equity in the economy.
Jeanel has 15 years of retail, marketing and brand management experience. She has started an ecommerce business in 2019, after working in corporate retail and real estate as a senior managing director and former consultant. She's traveled all over the world, speaks at world renowned trade shows and events, holds a Bachelor’s of Commerce (B.Comm) and a Certificate in Commercial Real Estate. You can connect with her on Linkedin.