CITI: Helping Black-Owned Businesses Succeed


Black people make up nearly 15% of the U.S. population. Yet, Blackowned brands have far from that level of representa­tion on the shelves of most retailers. That’s why fashion designer Aurora James founded the Fifteen Percent Pledge and has pushed major retailers to dedicate 15% of their shelf space to Blackowned brands. James—who founded the sustainabl­e lifestyle and accessorie­s line Brother Vellies—continues to advocate on behalf of Black entreprene­urs who have limited access to capital and face structural barriers in getting their products into major retailers.

The Fifteen Percent Pledge is a call to action for major retailers and corporatio­ns to create sustainabl­e and supportive ecosystems for Black-owned businesses to succeed. The Pledge works with companies to comprehens­ively reevaluate their organizati­onal structures, ways of working, funding, and resourcing to help grow our economy and increase equity for Black businesses.

When calls for racial justice were echoing across the country after the death of George Floyd, James recalls people asking her, “How can I help?” She then posted her idea for the Fifteen Percent Pledge on Instagram, tagged major retailers, and the organizati­on was born.

Over the 2022 holiday season, Citi supported the launch of the Pledge’s first ever Gifteen Holiday Shop, which featured a holiday store in Soho, NYC and a curated online gift guide, encouragin­g shoppers to commit 15% of their holiday spending to Black-owned brands.

Citi’s support for the Pledge aligns with its Action for Racial Equity, a set of strategic initiative­s to help close the racial wealth gap and increase economic mobility in the U.S.

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Founder of Brother Vellies and Fifteen Percent Pledge
Aurora James Founder of Brother Vellies and Fifteen Percent Pledge
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