Ethnic District Founder Selected American Express 100 For 100 Founder of Change

Whitney Osei-Akintaju

American express has revealed the 100 Black women entrepreneurs selected for its “100 for 100” program, which will provide each with grants of $25,000 and 100 days of business resources, including business education, mentorship, marketing, virtual networking, WorkSpaces by Hilton hotel reservation credits and more.

We are excited to announce that Ethnic District founder, Whitney Osei-Akintaju has been selected for this award!

American Express created this program in partnership with IFundWomen of Color, the leading platform for women of color to raise capital, to support Black women entrepreneurs as they work to jump start and grow their business ventures. The initiative is part of American Express’ recently announced $1 billion action plan to enhance diverse representation and promote equal opportunities for its colleagues, customers and communities.

Prior to the pandemic, Black-women-owned businesses were growing at unprecedented rates yet still making less revenue than their counterparts. In fact, according to last year’s State of Women-Owned Business report, commissioned by American Express, Black, women entrepreneurs were founding 763 new businesses every day – making them the fastest growing entrepreneur group in America. Yet, they still do not have equal access to the resources they need to grow and be successful.

“American Express is proud to support the highly talented and innovative entrepreneurs selected for our 100 for 100 program, as they kick start their ventures and keep the momentum going so their businesses can continue to evolve,” said Clayton Ruebensaal, EVP Global B2B Marketing, American Express. “The Black women entrepreneurs selected for the program have created many types of innovative, early-stage businesses across the country, inspiring and carving new paths for others to follow. Their business plans demonstrate that great ideas often come out in times of hardship, and American Express is committed to continuing to back small businesses and advance equal opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly during these challenging times.”

“Through our years of experience with businesses in need of funding, we have found $25,000 can truly change the trajectory of an emerging business. It could be the difference between one month of rent or five months, between being able to develop a decent prototype or a prototype that’s really not-so-great, and between doing real consumer testing or no testing at all. It means a business can do marketing to promote their product or service to drive more revenue and they can afford more payroll. We are thrilled to work with American Express to provide a meaningful difference for these inspiring 100 Black women-owned businesses, so they can grow and succeed,“ said Karen Cahn, Founder and CEO, IFundWomen.


The “100 for 100” program is part of American Express’ broader commitment to provide access to capital and financial education to at least 250,000 Black-owned small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. by the end of 2024, to help them navigate today’s environment and thrive into the future.

The 100 days of business education for the entrepreneurs will kick off virtually in January 2021, with a tailored curriculum focused on topics for early-stage companies such as managing cashflow and growth, securing and maintaining customer relationships and finding balance, all taught by industry experts and seasoned entrepreneurs. Many of the experts teaching the curriculum will also serve as mentors to the 100 women throughout the program, sharing insights during coaching sessions to help these entrepreneurs navigate business challenges and find the path towards growth.

Other resources for the women include marketing support from American Express to drive awareness of the entrepreneurs and their businesses across a variety of channels, complimentary access to a one-year premium subscription with the sleep and mediation app Calm and a $1,000 credit to use towards WorkSpaces by Hilton, a new work-from-hotel solution that provides guests with a private, distraction-free work space to increase efficiency, all backed by the elevated cleanliness standards of Hilton CleanStay with Lysol Protection. Hilton, a longstanding American Express partner, is also offering Hilton Honors Diamond status to the 100 women, to help plus-up their work-from-hotel experience and provide valuable, elite benefits. The 100 days of resources will culminate with an online event hosted on the Amex Virtual Campus, bringing the women together for networking, informative panels and more.

Resources also include Business Class from American Express – a modern business education platform offering world-class know-how and essential insights to help entrepreneurs navigate the current environment – available to anyone, all at no cost.


American Express worked closely with IFundWomen of Color to select and surprise 100 unique and passionate innovators across a number of different industries including fashion and beauty, food and beverage, finance, fitness and wellness, home goods and apparel, technology, social good and more. Many of the women are also creating content and fostering communities to empower the next class of Black women leaders.

To learn more about the 100 Founder of Change visit:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.