Pharrell Williams is giving back to Black-owned businesses in a major way.
Last Thursday, Williams awarded Black and Brown entrepreneurs $3.2 million through his foundation, Black Ambition during its third annual Demo Day Celebration. Reports say that the organization launched a competition of a nationwide search that was then narrowed down to 50 finalists, then down to 36.
During the celebration, three businesses were given top honors with the grand prize of $1 million going to the CEO and Founder of Expert IEP, Antoinette Banks. Expert IEP is a “parent-facing app that optimizes existing Individual Education Plans with predictive AI for children diagnosed with a disability.”
Other companies that won the top prize included ECOMSPACES, which is considered to be “a one-stop-shop for e-commerce solutions ranging from product photography to order fulfillment.” The last winner was Monocle which is a “social e-reader that creates a community-focused reading experience.” Each winner was awarded $200,000 and $250,000 that will go towards their businesses.
Williams’ organization, Black Ambition, was created in 2020 with the focus to help Black and Hispanic communities to bridge the wealth gap. Since then, it has helped over 5,000 businesses and has given around $10 million to deserving finalists.
Feleica Hatcher, Black Ambition’s CEO said, “Demo Day is a powerful testament to the transformative potential of the Black Ambition Prize.” She continued, “Our impact, illustrated by the 36 top finalists, is a testament to the tangible change we’re creating for underserved communities.”