It was during a normal coffee break in 2019 when Tiffany Johnson joined with two other Amazon employees to come up with an idea to help Black business owners succeed as selling partners with Amazon.
Johnson, Rachad Lewis, and Jeremy Erdman teamed up to launch Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator (BBA) program that uses a $150 million pledge to help Black entrepreneurs with capital, mentorship, and marketing support.
“I want to help businesses that are overlooked,” Johnson says of her meaningful full at the retail giant. “The role small businesses play in our society is very personal to me.”
The Amazon program manager was already working to help small business owners grow on Amazon when she spearheaded the idea of the BBA program.
“My parents were entrepreneurs,” the Guyana native said. “They started several small businesses out of nothing and built them from the ground up.”
“I remember starting with a little shack in front of our home selling candies,” she recalled. “Then we moved to St. Lucia and started all over again. My parents sold movies, belts, sandals— typical items that tourists would look for when they come to the islands. What little they made, they took it and expanded on it to help the community.”
Johnson credits her parents’ drive and ambition for inspiring her to find her own way to pay it forward.
“Seeing my parents ignited a passion in me to create opportunities for others,” Johnson said. “I joined Amazon because I wanted to help sellers just like my parents find their opportunity.”
Johnson shared how seeing Black businesses struggle amid the ongoing pandemic motivated her to create a way for Amazon to help entrepreneurs in need while working against issues of systemic racism.
“It focuses on empowering Black-owned businesses on Amazon, providing the tools, capital, and support they need to become successful,” she said. “It’s not just a program, it’s a community. Whether you’re in the ideation phase or have an existing business and feel stuck, we want to support you.”
Over the next four years, Amazon’s BBA program is working to help Black business owners reach millions of customers across the country.
“We’re in a position to support these businesses and help their communities,” Johnson said. “And that’s exactly what we’re doing.”