Hollywood mogul Issa Rae is always rooting for everybody Black, and today is no different as she pushes for all Black-owned businesses to officially certify their brands through a newly-launched program, reports Afro Tech.

The producer and actress is supporting American Express and the U.S. Black Chambers Inc.’s (USBC) joint effort to expand their ByBlack initiative with the launch of the “first national certification program exclusively for Black ownership designation.”

The free, first-of-its-kind platform — which was designed as a directory for Black-owned businesses — will now offer Black business-owners the opportunity to easily obtain approved accreditation that their customers and other companies can trust when spending with them.

“We are thrilled to team up with the USBC to expand the ByBlack platform,” Jessica Ling — senior vice president of Global B2B Marketing at American Express — tells AfroTech. “Seventy-five percent of corporations source diverse suppliers through certification programs – yet there is no nationally recognized, free, widely available program out there specifically for Black-owned business certification.

“As we have seen countless corporations pledge to diversify spending with Black-owned businesses to help address inequalities, we believe this is a way to put action behind those pledges,” Ling added.

“ByBlack not only helps Black-owned businesses access opportunities for growth that come with accreditation, but it also helps large organizations, such as American Express, fulfill commitments to spend with these businesses,” she said. “We plan to increase spending with Black-owned suppliers to at least $100 million annually by the end of 2024 and encourage other companies to join us in leveraging the ByBlack platform.”

In June 2020, the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. created the ByBlack platform to provide Black businesses with a new avenue to register, promote and fuel spending with their businesses – this started with the national directory. Now, American Express is working with the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. to expand ByBlack – introducing the only national certification exclusively for Black-owned businesses. This certification is offered at no-cost.

Businesses do not have to be a member of USBC to join the directory or submit a Black-owned certification application. The ByBlack Badge is the official seal designating a business as Black-Owned and Operated. It is awarded by the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. & ByBlack.us Platform. Once certified and awarded, a business can feature this badge in marketing communications, email signature lines, websites, print materials, and social media posts.

Onboarding to the directory and the certification program are two separate processes. Those who add their listing to the directory are self-identified black-owned businesses. The certification process requires a high level of review.

All Black-owned businesses can join the directory. For certification, there are no size requirements, however the organization certifys businesses who have been in operation for at least one year. Those who apply for certification, must have majority (at least 51 percent) owned, operated, managed, and controlled by a Black/African-American person or persons who are either U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, exercises independence from any non-Black business enterprise, and has its principal place of business (headquarters) and has been formed as a legal entity in the United States. For more information, visit www.byblack.us/search .