For the past year, crisis after crisis, including the fight against racial injustice and the pandemic, relentlessly challenged communities and impacted their livelihood – especially for women of color.

New research from Caress and IFundWomen of Color shows the COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened these gaps. Nearly 70% of women of color small business owners surveyed saw their revenue diminish in 2020 – and of those, they saw an average decline of 46%.

In partnership with IFundWomen of Color, the leading platform for diverse entrepreneurs to raise capital, Caress is unveiling new data revealing the ongoing challenges women of color entrepreneurs are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic at the Caress x IFundWomen of Color Virtual Summit.

The half-day virtual summit unmasked the collective barriers to success including lack of resources and navigating systems of inequity, while helping entrepreneurs navigate the path forward through a series of learning sessions and intimate fireside chats led by women in leadership, including Esi Eggleston Bracey, EVP & COO NA Beauty and Personal Care, Unilever.

Financial support was amongst the biggest challenges cited in the research report and will be addressed head on in the virtual summit. While some businesses found respite and access to federal funding to keep their businesses afloat, many women of color-owned small businesses continued to struggle. 81% did not receive emergency government assistance to support their business in 2020 with 49% relying on their personal savings.

“Women of Color and their businesses have suffered disproportionately during this pandemic and receiving grants and aid through federal relief programs has been challenging for many,” said Esi Eggleston Bracey, EVP & COO North American Beauty and Personal Care, Unilever. “Last year, through our partnership with IFundWomen of Color, Caress committed $1,000,000 to support women of color entrepreneurs over the next two years including immediate relief directly going towards small businesses impacted by economic strain due to COVID-19 and the biases of systemic racism. This new research further proves how imperative it is to continue to support women of color entrepreneurs through their journey and we’re proud to use the Caress x IFundWomen of Color Virtual Summit as a platform to create a space of equity and drive such an important conversation.”

Despite the challenges faced, women of color small business owners are hopeful, 60% of women of color business owners expect revenues to improve this year, and 73% of those whose businesses have been negatively impacted by the pandemic believe their businesses will fully recover by Spring 2022.

Most of the women surveyed cite community support and access to education and funding as the main drivers on the road to recovery.

“COVID-19 has hit women of color-owned small businesses hard, but we’re optimistic they can and will recover. Through IFundWomen’s partnership with Caress, we’re proud to continue offering our growing community of diverse entrepreneurs access to capital through crowdfunding and grants, expert business coaching, and connections to follow-on capital, collaborators, and new partnerships,” said Olivia Owens, Creator and General Manager of IFundWomen of Color. “While 70% of women surveyed say the support of their peers was crucial to starting or maintaining their business in 2020, 2 in 5 feel disconnected from other women of color entrepreneurs and do not have people in their day-to-day network to collaborate with and problem-solve. The goal of today’s virtual summit, as well as one of our overarching goals of IFundWomen of Color, is to offer a space for women to cultivate meaningful conversations and relationships that will help them continue to advance.”

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