After the murder of George Floyd, Rachael Hawk, marketing manager at Facebook, decided she wanted to do more for Black businesses in her work at the social network. The #BuyBlack Summit became a passion project for her. (Courtesy Photo)

By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member

August is recognized as National Black Business Month. In honor of the occasion, Facebook Elevate, a community and educational platform for businesses owned by people of color, will host its first #BuyBlack Summit on Aug. 24. The event will be virtual and free for attendees. 

The pandemic’s destruction of Black-owned businesses around the United States motivated the social network to instigate the summit for those businesses that have survived. “It’s important because we know that Black businesses closed at two times the rate as other businesses during the pandemic,” said Rachael Hawk, marketing manager at Facebook. “Now, they are recovering, and they need support. We want to do everything we can to educate them and celebrate them for overcoming a difficult pandemic, which is still going on.” 

In summer 2020, Facebook announced an ongoing commitment to invest in the Black and Latinx communities, and this event is a continuation of those efforts. The #BuyBlack Summit will feature speakers, including Shelly Bell from Black Girl Ventures and Arian Simone from Fearless Fund. Comedian Michelle Buteau, known for her role in BET’s First Wives Club, will host the event. 

To build the programming for the event, Facebook Elevate asked Black-owned small businesses what they wanted to learn. One response was access to capital. “Small businesses face a lot of challenges, especially when it comes to accessing capital and having resources to run their businesses,” said Hawk. 

As a result, the summit will feature an entire panel on securing funding, as well as sessions focused on starting shops on Facebook and Instagram and unlocking unknown opportunities to increase business. One of the goals of the event is to prepare Black-owned businesses with a plan for the upcoming holiday season. 

For Hawk, the #BuyBlack Summit has been a passion project. After the murder of George Floyd, she wanted to do more to uplift the Black community in her work life. Hawk started by launching the #BuyBlack Friday campaign, which ran in November 2020 with a gift guide to encourage patrons to support Black businesses. Now with the launch of the summit, Hawk said she feels relieved. 

“To have a safe space for Black businesses to feel seen and celebrated and to be able to pull in a bunch of Facebook resources to be able to help educate them just feels like a relief because the businesses deserve it,” said Hawk.

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