DoorDash announces Main Street Strong Accelerator, a new program and $2m fund to support women, immigrant, and BIPOC-owned businesses
The entire restaurant industry has experienced the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)-owned businesses are at the greatest risk of permanent closure and economic setback. Black-owned businesses are closing at rates twice as fast as other businesses, and nearly half of Latinx business owners expect to permanently close within six months. Additionally, women-owned businesses disproportionately feel the impacts of COVID-19.
As part of its effort to help and support this group, DoorDash today announced its Main Street Strong Accelerator, an initiative providing financial support and specialized educational resources to women-, immigrants- and people of color-owned businesses, which have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Developed in close collaboration with Accion Opportunity Fund (AOF), the nation’s leading nonprofit small business lender and support organization, the Accelerator helps create equitable access to opportunity in the restaurant industry with programming designed to help restaurateurs stabilize and adapt their business for long-term success.
Applications open today to small business restaurateurs in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, and Philadelphia, and 100 restaurateurs will be selected to participate in the program’s inaugural year.
“The social and financial inequities that many businesses experienced before the pandemic have only been amplified by the current global pandemic and economic crisis,” said Tony Xu, CEO, and Co-founder of DoorDash. “To truly empower and grow local economies, you must start with the entrepreneur. With a commitment to advancing diversity and equity, starting with the restaurant industry, we’re excited to provide business owners with specialized tools to thrive during one of the most challenging times of our generation.”
Together, DoorDash and Accion Opportunity Fund, along with restaurant industry experts, constructed an eight-week course that will cover topics such as marketing, technology integration, managing cash flow, and menu creation. Throughout the program, participants will create a personalized business plan, a compilation of all their completed weekly assignments, to help them implement newly learned skills directly to their businesses. Participants will also build a strong network of fellow entrepreneurs to further foster a supportive community through connection.
Accion Opportunity Fund (AOF) is lending its expertise by building the Main Street Strong Accelerator Program to best meet the needs of restaurant owners most impacted by the pandemic. Over 90% of the nonprofit’s small business clients are women, immigrants, and people of color.
“Restaurants have been among the industries most severely impacted during this pandemic. And, like all sectors, those owned by women, immigrants, and people of color suffered the most, because they had less resources to fall back on and fewer connections to access initial relief from the federal government,” said Luz Urrutia, Accion Opportunity Fund CEO. “It’s clear and unfortunate that the future of the industry has changed forever. If we want to make space for food visionaries from diverse backgrounds to contribute to the future of food, dining, job creation, and community-building, we must intentionally focus on these business owners to support their adaptation, creativity, and liquidity.”
Additionally, DoorDash will deploy $2M in grants to the program participants to respond to the pandemic’s unique challenges and invest in their operations for the future. The grants will be made in two $10,000 payments, one at the start and one at the end of the program in May.
How to Apply
In its inaugural year, the Accelerator aims to address the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic, which have disproportionately impacted businesses that are women-, immigrant-, and BIPOC-owned. Applications open today to restaurant owners and operators who are operating three or fewer restaurant locations, have been operating for two or more years, and have 50 employees or fewer across all locations. For full eligibility requirements and criteria, and to begin your application, visit doordashimpact.com/accelerator.