Black-owned businesses have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. A study in the Wall Street Journal finds geography, weaker ties to financial institutions, and limited reach of the Paycheck Protection Program as contributing factors to the disparate impact of the coronavirus on Black-owned businesses.

A recent study finds a strong correlation between the number of Black-owned businesses in a region and the number of coronavirus cases per 1,000 residents. Unfortunately, this tie between Black-owned businesses and virus prevalence exacerbates direct and indirect factors that result in business hardship. This includes business closures, fewer customers, and increased likelihood and duration of social distancing.


In response to this problem, SAP launched the Spotlight Black Businesses program, which is designed to help move the needle in helping these businesses attract new customers. It also reinforces the company’s long-term commitment to standing against racism. The program features SAP employee-nominated Black-owned businesses on our social media channels and a dedicated website to foster ongoing support for struggling businesses within their respective communities.

Over the past few months, SAP employees nominated more than 150 Black-owned businesses, and a sub-set of those were chosen to receive a portion of SAP’s advertising spend. Geotargeted advertisements for the selected businesses will run for a month and appear on various channels to spread the word and help these businesses survive and thrive.

Leon Scott, owner of Silver Legends Jewelry and Spotlight Black Business participant, shared how coronavirus has affected his business.

“Once COVID-19 forced us to close our doors, we directed our focus to e-commerce via our website, but our bottom line has still been adversely affected, and we miss the personal interactions with our customers,” he said. “While we were closed, the civil unrest, sparked by the mistreatment of Black people, also affected our business.”

“At SAP, we are taking an active stand against racial inequality and supporting the livelihoods of those affected by the pandemic,” said Alicia Tillman, global chief marketing officer of SAP. “Through the Spotlight Black Businesses program, we have been utilizing our platforms and voice to address social injustice. We remain committed to demonstrating our support and are looking forward to the next step in the program, which further supports small, Black-owned businesses in their local communities.”

Spotlight Black Businesses empowers every consumer to be a changemaker. Businesses notice the tangible impact of our conscious buying decisions, and program participants report increased sales, in some cases even a backlog in order fulfillment due to increased traffic.

“I’m proud that SAP has been able to shine a spotlight on so many amazing Black businesses and happy that we are extending our investment to include marketing and advertising,” Judith Williams, chief diversity and inclusion officer at SAP, said. “In doing so, we are helping these business owners lead with their strengths, generate new business, and by extension we are supporting the communities they serve.”

Join SAP in taking a stand against racism and social injustice by supporting Black-owned businesses in your neighborhood. Follow the campaign at #SpotlightBlackBusinesses and visit the Spotlight Black Businesses website to learn more.

Janis Fratamico is global head of Brand Experience at SAP.