The World Games’ impact can be far reaching for area businesses

Mastercard teams with Birmingham Business Resource Center to support Black-owned businesses

The skyline of Birmingham. Photo by Alec Harvey.

From improvements made at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport to turning the lights on at historic Sloss Furnaces, Birmingham has been readying for this moment for several years. The World Games are here, starting Thursday and running through July 17, showcasing athletes across a spectrum of events including gymnastics, flag football, lacrosse, wheelchair rugby, muaythai, archery, powerlifting, flying disc and much more.

Businesses in the area also have been getting ready. Several will take part in the Civil Rights District Marketplace, an event organized by the Birmingham Business Resource Center and held July 8-10 and July 15-16 at the historic Kelly Ingram Park. The marketplace will feature black-owned businesses that are participating in The World Games’ World of Opportunity Vendor Program.

The Civil Rights District Marketplace has support from Mastercard, which has chosen Birmingham as one of seven cities to participate in its In Solidarity Initiative, a $500 million commitment to closing Black American’s racial wealth and opportunity gap across America.

In partnership with the Birmingham Business Resource Center, Mastercard is launching the Birmingham Loyalty Campaign, offering a 20% rebate on qualifying purchases made at Black-owned businesses during The World Games.  

“As I’ve said before, these businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and they deserve the support of the city they make investments in,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. “That’s why I’m proud of this genuine partnership with Mastercard. This effort encourages Birmingham residents and visitors to support our Black-owned businesses by shopping local.”

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Also supporting the initiative is The Fearless Fund, the first venture capital fund built by women of color. “Over 50% of Black businesses had to close their doors during the pandemic,” said Arian Simone, CEO and founder of The Fearless Fund. “Now, we are facing the global, macro-economic climate of high interest rates, inflation at an all-time high, and supply chain issues, where now people of color are being hit again.”

The Fearless Fund and Mastercard presented a check of $10,000 to Bernadine Birdsong, owner of Michael’s Steak and Seafood in Birmingham, in support of Black-owned businesses. For more information on the Mastercard loyalty program and to see businesses taking part, visit

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