Pandemic has hammered revenue for women of color-owned small businesses, survey finds

Unilever’s Caress brand and IFundWomen of Color reveal results at virtual summit

The pandemic has taken a clear toll on small businesses owned by women of color, according to new research from Caress and IFundWomen of Color.

The study found that nearly 70% of women of color small business owners surveyed saw their revenue fall in 2020 — and those who lost revenue saw an average decline of 46%. The results of the study were revealed at the first Caress x IFundWomen of Color Virtual Summit on Thursday.

“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,” Esi Eggleston Bracey, executive vice president and chief operating officer, North American Beauty and Personal Care, for Caress’ parent, Unilever, said in a prepared statement. “Last year, through our partnership with IFundWomen of Color, Caress committed $1 million to support women of color entrepreneurs over the next two years, including immediate relief directly going toward small businesses impacted by economic strain due to COVID-19 and the biases of systemic racism.”

The virtual summit logo. (Courtesy photo)

Among other data, the survey found that 81% of women of color-owned small businesses did not receive emergency government assistance, forcing 49% to rely on personal savings to stay in business.

“COVID-19 has hit women of color-owned small businesses hard, but we’re optimistic they can and will recover,” Olivia Owens, creator and general manager of IFundWomen of Color, said in a statement. “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.”

On the bright side, 60% of the business owners expect revenues to improve in 2021, while 73% of those who have seen a negative impact from the pandemic hope to fully recover by spring 2022.

“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,” Bracey said.

Caress is a brand of Englewood Cliffs-based Unilever, while IFundWomen of Color is a unit of Montclair- and New York-based funding platform IFundWomen.

“While 70% of women surveyed say the support of their peers was crucial to starting of 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,” Owens said. “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.”