Though they make up 12.7% of the U.S. population, black people represent just 4.3% of the country's 22.2 million business owners, according to the Brookings Institution. The specific challenges black entrepreneurs face, which include less access to start-up and other kinds of capital, result in a tremendous loss of wealth.
Those missing earnings could go "to helping black families, helping their communities, [and] allowing them to have the wealth and the resources to be able to live an abundant life," says Chan-Denise Budhoo, co-founder of Black Nation, an app featuring black-owned businesses around the world.
As America's black community, already hard hit by the pandemic and the economic recession, mourns George Floyd and protests the death of numerous other unarmed black Americans at the hands of police, one great way to support it is through supporting black-owned businesses. Here's how.
Apps, marketplaces, and directories make it simple to find a black-owned business that can sell you a product or service that you're looking for, whether locally or online.
- Black Nation is an "all-in-one directory for you to find black-owned businesses," says Budhoo. The app is free to download in the iTunes app store and features more than 5,000 businesses in sectors ranging from law to apparel to event planning.
- eatOkra is an app and nationwide directory of black-owned restaurants, featuring thousands of eateries, ranging from bakeries to seafood spots.
- WeBuyBlack is an online marketplace of more than 1,000 black-owned businesses around the world in categories ranging from toys to pet supplies.
- Local publications from the L.A. Times to the Washingtonian are publishing lists of local black-owned businesses. See if your state or city paper is doing the same, and if it's not, make a request for a comprehensive list.
- On social media platforms, users are posting lists of black-owned businesses to support. Check your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feeds. You can also always post an ask for recommendations.
Nearly 59% of small businesses say their revenue decreased by more than 75% since the coronavirus became a widespread concern, according to a Main Street America survey of more than 5,850 small businesses.
Bottom line, says Budhoo, is that once you've found the type of business and service you're looking for, "buy something." Customers are the lifeblood of any company, and the more you stream your dollars into these businesses, the stronger they'll be and the more likely they'll be to survive.
If you've found a business you want to support but what they're offering isn't relevant to you right now, you could buy gift cards for yourself and others to use later.
"Black people and people of color have been creating businesses for years and years, but typically they're bootstrapped," nurse turned-tech-entrepreneur Tanya Sam told Grow last year. When owners must rely on their own savings to grow their businesses, with little to know outside capital, or what's known as bootstrapping, they face numerous challenges.
Video by Mariam Abdallah
For every 10 Yelp reviews a business gets, it experiences an average of two percentage points of revenue growth, according to Brookings. Once you've shopped at a black-owned store or eaten at a black-owned eatery, take a minute to write a positive, detailed review of it to let others know it's worth their money.
After you've done that, consider sharing your positive experience on social media.
Millions of Americans are experiencing financial hardship right now. If you don't have the funds to purchase items and services, you can still support black-owned businesses, though. "The best thing, right now, that people can do is share," says Yosara Trujillo, founder of Sweet Water Dance & Yoga studio in the Bronx, New York.
"People don't do that enough," she says, and it's both an opportunity to spread awareness about the businesses you want to support and a way of "inspiring that in other people."
Ultimately, while "it's important right now for people to take action" in investing in this community, says Will Campbell, CEO of creative agency Quantasy + Associates, supporting black-owned companies isn't just about purchasing from them when they're making headlines. It's about finding the businesses you really identify with and that fit your needs, he adds, and "supporting these businesses as a part of your life."
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