Being a Black Woman and owning my business has been a journey of ups and downs, long sleepless nights, and joy. I speak about my journey, acknowledging that I have certain privileges that are not often afforded to many others, including financial support from loved ones, access to advisors, and staff to assist me in the day-to-day operations of most parts of my business.
That small amount of privilege still does not negate the hurdles and challenges I have and continue to face daily. Examples include (and I am 100% serious) being denied loans for my business even with an 820 credit score, or one of my favorites is when I was in my store and asked if the store I was the owner and then, without even stuttering, was asked: "Is your husband white?" As if Black and white were the only two options I had and that I just had no other choice but to be heterosexual too. Hmm.. all very interesting, to say the least, on so many levels.
Representation matters. Normalizing Black Owned Business as a real-life thing and not some few and far-in-between concept is my goal with this blog, as well as to answer a few questions that I am sure many folks may be wondering. Stay with me until the end and walk away feeling empowered to go out and make the world bigger, better, and more equitable. (I hope).
Why is Black Business Month Important?
Black Business Month is important because it allows us to focus on a community far too often underrepresented regarding access to capital and opportunities to build wealth. It isn't about creating an atmosphere of division or "woe is me, I am a Black person and own a business, so spend your money with me this month," but rather about recognizing that we live in a country where resources are not as easily accessible to every demographic equally. When those barriers were created and layered in with other nuances, something blatantly apparent by those being oppressed often gets overlooked by those who are not similarly impacted. Many people appreciate things without thinking about who makes them; usually, there may be something just as good if not better being made by a person of color but because they have not afforded the privilege to obtain bank loans or find investors quickly. Moreover, often, times than not, you never get the chance to learn more about these businesses and the incredible things that they have to offer.
Who created Black Business Month?
Founded in 2004 by historian John William Templeton and engineer Frederick E. Jordan Sr., Black Business Month was created to bring the attention of more than 2 million businesses owned by black people into the light of the mainstream media and acknowledge their many accomplishments. When we celebrate the contribution of black business owners and entrepreneurs, it pays respect to them, their contribution to society, and their legacies.
Is Black Business Month All About Spending Money?
No, but yes, LOL. As a business owner, I must say that it would certainly help. But in all seriousness, another important aspect of Black Business Month is paying it forward, whether by being a paying customer, following someone on social media, sharing their message with your friends and family, or even something as simple as re-sharing their content. Awareness and equity are the ultimate goals; however, that needs to look for you. You are doing something that benefits the business in a valued and authentic way; I am sure the company will similarly appreciate your gesture.
Let's State the Facts:
- In the U.S., 10% of the Nations business owners are Black. In comparison, Black-owned businesses account for 30% of all minority-owned businesses.
- Eight out of ten black companies fail in their first 18 months.
- During the pandemic, 58% of Black business owners claimed their health was at risk or distress. 41% of Black business owners are in debt due to health care costs, while 24% have no health care insurance. When Black businesses fail, it contributes to the racial wealth gap and costs all Americans money.
- According to the Harvard Business Review, despite starting businesses at a high rate, 3% of Black women are running mature businesses. In contrast, white women are more than twice as likely to be mature business owners (7%), despite starting at lower rates. This disparity between high startup and low established business activity among Black women suggests potential issues with sustaining a business. Enabling access to entrepreneurship for all social groups benefits us by creating employment opportunities, increasing innovation, combating income inequalities, and bringing a diversity of ideas to fruition.
- 61% of Black women self-fund their total startup capital.
- The primary sectors in which Black-owned businesses operate include health care, social work, repair and maintenance, beauty salons, restaurants, and more.
What Can I Do to Help?
- Follow a Black influencer on a social platform. Share their stories and their business with your network.
- GIFT CARDS, folks. Even if you won't shop with a business, that doesn't mean someone in your network wouldn't appreciate what that business offers. Buy a gift card and give it to someone you think would value what that Black Owned Business has to offer.
- The civil rights advocacy group Color of Change launched Black Business Green Book to support Black-owned businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Black Business Green Book offers ways to browse enterprises in many categories, including home goods, fashion, health and wellness, books, and art.
- Forbes has also highlighted ways to be an ally (or accomplice if you have some skin in the game) in the fight for equity for Black Owned Businesses.
- Black Woman Owned is a community of those who understand the need to amplify and purchase from Black Woman Owned businesses. Its mission is to give Black Woman-Owned businesses visibility through social and digital media to help increase their annual revenue.
- EatOkra is a directory of Black-owned restaurants featuring over 2,500 restaurants around the United States. Users can search by cuisine and location and even order delivery—the app will connect you to Grub Hub or Door Dash so you can seamlessly order from those listings.
- Check out the collection of Black Owned Businesses at Queen Anna House of Fashion.
There are many more ways to aid in the fight for equity for Black Owned Businesses, but this will get you started in the right direction. Be sure to share this little note with anyone you think may appreciate the information.
Until next time, bye-bye!
A big shout out to my mini me Amya for helping me with this Blog Post.
It's for you sweetie that Mommy grids. Love you to life!