UPS Ignite Programs Empower Women-Owned and Diverse Businesses to Be Unstoppable
UPS Ignite Programs Empower Women-Owned and Diverse Businesses to Be Unstoppable

UPS planted its flag last November as a proud supporter of diverse small business owners and is committed to working tirelessly to empower them through leadership programs. Since then, they have kept their word. Thanks to the recent launch UPS Ignite Program 140 exceptional innovators now have access to mentors, coaching, executive-level training, leadership programs and a host of other resources.

One such small business is Branchial Brothers Candle Co. Founded by brothers Collin, Ryan and Austin, with the support of their parents Patrick and Celena Gill. Celena is now part of the UPS Ignite executive education program with Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.

Quote from Celena Gill “It is of the utmost importance for minority businesses to have support. Often many of us don’t have adequate access to capital or a plan to build a successful business. Young minority entrepreneurs are particularly in need of support and resources, as many of them have not had the time to build their own funds to start their business or to create a strong network of peers and business advisors. . Without this vital support, many young minority entrepreneurs are finished before they even start”.

There is still work to be done. Various small business owners still face daunting challenges when it comes to accessing capital.

  • University of Michigan: Non-black homeowners 30 times more likely to get federal aid than their black counterparts
  • ProjectDIANE: The median round for a founding black woman is 1/20and that of the national median

These numbers are staggering. It’s no secret that all players in the economy are mobilizing and proposing solutions to remedy this disparity. Enter UPS and the ACCION Opportunity Fund.

Capitalized companies have the best chance of growing.

The two organizations have partnered to increase access to capital for various founders. 10 of the aforementioned 140 intrepid founders of the UPS Ignite program will receive a $10,000 grant to help them grow their business. Other diverse founders will have access to small business loans, business advice, and a host of other digital tools.

UPS wanted to tackle head-on the lack of access to capital for diverse small business owners. It needed a partner who ticked three boxes; a mission to empower diverse communities, an innovative business model and a proven track record.

He found all three in Accion.

  • CDFI works tirelessly to create an inclusive and accessible financial system.
  • Through its not-for-profit business model, the company reinvests funds from borrower repayments into other businesses seeking support. (A business that takes out a loan therefore creates additional opportunities for other small businesses in its community and beyond.) As a result, UPS expects to be able to award even more grants throughout 2022.
  • Accion has issued more than 20,000 loans in its 27-year history, with 60% reporting an increase in sales after obtaining the loan.

Black business owners know the impact this partnership can have. This is the beginning of UPS’s work. Small businesses are the heart of our economy, and the world’s largest transportation provider wants to do its part to empower them, including those who face unique challenges on their journey. Kevin Warren, UPS Chief Marketing Officer, said it best: “By investing in various SMBs, David & Goliath can become a reality.”

To learn more about the program, please visit:

A note from UPS

If you have ideas on how best to achieve our mission of empowering Black Founders, we’d love to hear from you. To share your thoughts or be notified of 2022 opportunities, please contact us at:

Until then, we’ll continue to do our best to move the world forward by delivering what matters – to you.

Thank you.


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