Although the population of Birmingham is 70% Black, only 3% of businesses are Black-owned. Not to mention, the city’s Black owned business community has been most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, which has made it even more difficult for business owners to grow. 

But Mastercard has been investing in digital tools, mentorship, grants and partnerships to help Black business owners in Birmingham thrive. As a poster of this recent campaign, Mastercard partnered with the Birmingham Business Resource Center (BBRC) to support Black owned businesses during the 2022 World Games. The campaign, along with the brand’s recent visit with leaders in Birmingham, are a part of its In Solidarity initiative to close the racial wealth and opportunity gap.

“These are exciting times in Birmingham as we prepare to serve as hosts for people around the world. The BBRC’s staff is elated to have been given the opportunity to ensure that opportunities to benefit from the World Games are shared with our local Black businesses. And Mastercard has been key to that effort,” said Bob Dickerson, Executive Director of the Birmingham Business Resource Center. “I certainly don’t have the words to express how truly grateful I am to Mastercard for what they have done and continue to do for small businesses in our community.”

During the ten days of the 2022 World Games, Mastercard offered cardholders 20% cashback each time they used their Mastercard to spend $20 or more at participating businesses to encourage Birmingham residents and visitors to shop at local Black-owned businesses.

“Mastercard is proud to be back in Birmingham and join with Mayor Woodfin and the BBRC to announce our latest effort to continue lifting up Black-owned businesses in this community,” said Salah Gross, Senior Vice President of Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. “Our work with the city of Birmingham has ranged from partnering to provide digital tools for local entrepreneurs, to supporting the A.G. Gaston Black Business Director. At the center of all of these efforts is Mastercard’s pledge to stay present in Birmingham and help close the racial wealth and opportunity gap through our $500 million ‘In Solidarity’ commitment, and we look forward to continuing this work.”

“It’s not just about programs, it’s about establishing a partnership. After the murder of George Floyd, Mastercard was one of the first major organizations that came out to address social inequities and that meant a lot to us,” said Mayor Woodfin. “To be quite honest, we saw an intent to understand what Birmingham needs and we appreciate that [because] it allowed us to customize an approach that works for us.”

In honor of the new campaign, Bernadine Birdsong, owner of Michael’s Steaks and Seafood in Birmingham’s Southside community, received a $10,000 grant from Mastercard and the Fearless Fund, an Atlanta-based venture capital firm founded by women of color. “It is very exciting to be the recipient of the Fearless Strivers Birmingham Grant. This money says to me that people saw us, they recognized the need, and they are here to support and that makes me very happy,” says Birdsong.

“This is a great day for Birmingham’s Black businesses, said Mayor Woodfin. “Our local businesses are vital to the health of our city. Our goal has always been to support and empower their success. I am thrilled that Mastercard shares our vision and has been a strong partner.” 

This article is brought to you in partnership with Mastercard.