PepsiCo recently launched a new program targeted at helping black-owned restaurants generate $100 million in sales in the next five years. The company also said it will increase its black managerial positions by 30%. This is part of the beverage company’s strategy to help build black businesses, especially those that have been badly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Pepsi, through its “Dig In” program plans to provide Black restaurant owners with meaningful assistance to get their businesses back on track amid the pandemic and beyond. The program also celebrates diversity in food and restaurants’ histories.

“Restaurants that have been well-positioned and set up to meet off-premise needs have performed well in the past nine months,” said CMO of PepsiCo Global Foodservice, Scott Finlow. “What we’ve also found is that a lot of Black-owned restaurants, because of challenges like access to capital haven’t been as well-positioned. That’s why we’re jumping in with this program.”

One of the beneficiaries, Marcus Davis, founder, and owner of The Breakfast Klub, who is also a member of the PepsiCo Black Restaurant Advisory Council, said he hopes to see “a boost in active interest and support” among the many Black-owned restaurants that will receive help from Pepsi. He describes the beverage company’s involvement as giving “national exposure” to businesses like his.

The CEO of Chicago agency Ten35, Ahmad Islam describes PepsiCo’s “Dig In” program as a strategic invitation to people to discover and patronize Black-owned restaurants. However, he says it is also a “higher-order call to action of digging into the case of uplifting the Black-owned restaurant community.”

In June 2020, PepsiCo’s CEO, Ramon L. Laguarta said the company is working towards implementing strategies that would bring about a long-term change. He said systemic barriers to economic opportunities will be addressed as the company increases its efforts to advance economic empowerment in Black communities, as well as create more opportunities for Black Americans. To further impact black communities, Laguarta said PepsiCo will accelerate its support for social programs. Under its Small Business Program, the company said it would provide Black-owned restaurants with necessary support such as mentoring, management, and access to finance.

“We have been thinking hard about how PepsiCo can help dismantle the systemic racial barriers that for generations have blocked social and economic progress for Black people in this country. We know the first step towards change is to speak up, so I want to be very clear: Black Lives Matter, to our company and to me,” said Laguarta.

“When it comes to business, we will leverage our scale and influence across our suppliers, marketing agency partners, and customer base to increase representation and Strengthen Black-owned businesses.”

Since the wake of Covid-19 in 2020, many businesses have had to forcefully shut down, especially black-owned businesses. Many black-owned businesses have faced systemic and institutionalized disparities that have led to difficult access to capital and financial support to sustain their businesses. Some bigger businesses, organizations, and celebrities have taken the responsibility of supporting black-owned businesses until the gaps are closed.

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