Famous Amos, in partnership with the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), has launched the second cycle of the Famous Amos Ingredients for Success Entrepreneurs Initiative, a grant and mentorship program that aims to provide the necessary tools and resources to help Black business owners thrive.

The program features a pitch contest, in which prospective recipients submit an application that includes a videotaped elevator pitch and a written statement sharing the nature of their business, why it has the makings of a successful enterprise, and how they plan on using the funds to build a lasting operation. Three business owners will receive $50,000 in unrestricted capital from Famous Amos, totaling $150,000 in cash awards. In addition, the NBCC will provide a full suite of mentoring and coaching resources.

"We established the Famous Amos Ingredients for Success Entrepreneurs Initiative to support Black businesses and to honor the legacy of the brand's founder, Mr. Wally Amos," said Rachna Patel, senior director of marketing for Famous Amos. "In addition to the grants Famous Amos awards, we feel it is equally important to offer resources such as mentorship, coaching and networking, which are provided by our community partner, the National Black Chamber of Commerce."

The challenges Black businesses face on the road to sustainability are steep and plenty. According to a report from the Brookings Institution, Black people comprise approximately 14 percent of the U.S. population, but only 2.3 percent of owners of employer firms. Findings from the Federal Reserve System’s 2021 Small Business Credit Survey showed that most small business owners reported experiencing financial hardship during the early stages of the pandemic, but the highest rate was reported by Black business owners: 92 percent. The survey also pointed to the challenges Black businesses face in getting capital they needed to survive the pandemic, with only 43 percent receiving the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans they applied for, compared to a 79 percent of white-owned firms. 

Lower personal wealth among Black entrepreneurs also inhibits business creation, the report noted, underscoring the need for programs like the Famous Amos Ingredients for Success Entrepreneurs Initiative,

“We are energized by our mission to economically empower Black businesses and communities," said NBCC CEO Charles H. DeBow, III. "We look forward to the continued partnership with Famous Amos, and to providing coaching and mentorship that will help propel grant recipients to further success in their endeavors.” 

Ten national finalists will be selected, judged, and narrowed down to three recipients by some of the nation's foremost Black business leaders including Mandy Bowman, founder of Official Black Wall Street; Steve Canal, CEO of Flourysh; Roby Mercharles, VP of partnerships at The American Dream Fund & Marketplace; and Nancey Harris and Tracy Green, co-founders of Vontelle, LLC, one of three businesses selected from the first cycle of the Famous Amos Ingredients for Success Entrepreneurs Initiative. 

To qualify, businesses must be Black-owned and have been in operation for five years or less. For official rules and eligibility requirements, and to apply, please visit the initiative website. All entries must be submitted by June 26.