Applications Are Now Open For The Fifteen Percent Pledge’s Achievement Award | Essence

The program is back with another opportunity for Black entrepreneurs to win $200,000.

Fifteen Percent Pledge

The Fifteen Percent Pledge, founded by Aurora James, is making waves once again as it opens online applications for its Achievement Award. This groundbreaking movement, which began in 2020, aims to challenge corporations to allocate at least 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses, in line with the proportion of African Americans in the United States. The Achievement Award, in partnership with Shop With Google, is a vital component of this mission, and it promises to be an even more significant force for change in its second installment of the prize. 

Fifteen Percent Pledge and Google have been partnering since November 2021. That same year, they announced the Business Equity Community, an online database dedicated to connecting Black-owned businesses to retailers that have committed to the Fifteen Percent Pledge. Since then the BEC has helped over 625 brands develop partnerships with major retailers. The partnership also includes free digital training and workshops for these businesses to help them grow exponentially. Last year, the Pledge and Google collaborated with Shop With Google to announce the first-ever Achievement Award.

“We are so excited to work with Shop with Google for a second year in a row to award a total of $250,000 to three Black-owned businesses as part of our Achievement Award program,” James tells “As a Black business owner, I know first-hand the importance of access to capital which remains a huge barrier for Black entrepreneurs as they grow their businesses.”

$200,000 goes directly to the winner while $35,000 and $15,000 will go towards additional finalists who are aiming to continue expanding their businesses. The generous cash awards will significantly boost their financial capacity while enabling them to thrive in industries that have long been marked by racial disparities. Last year’s winner was Christina Funke Tegbe, founder of the luxury skincare brand 54 Thrones. Previous winners include Sergio Hudson, Hyper Skin, and Busayo NYC.

Applications are now open for the Fifteen Percent Pledge’s Achievement Award at

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