6 Ways to Support Black-Owned Businesses, Long-Term
Supporting black-owned businesses closes the racial wealth gap, fosters economically healthy communities, and creates jobs and opportunities. Before the pandemic, 95% of small businesses in mostly black communities had a cash buffer of 2 weeks or less. 46% of black-owned businesses closed or will be forced to close due to the impact of COVID-19. Now, it is more important than ever to do what we can to support black-owned businesses in our communities for the long term. Here are six things you can do today to get started.
1. Infuse your dollars into black-owned businesses, continuously
Create a list of your monthly expenditures: groceries, clothing, mechanic, dining, insurance, etc. Next to that expenditure, write down a black-owned business that provides that service and transition your monthly spending to these businesses. Locally, Grand Rapids Area Black Business has a database searchable by business category. Nationally, the Official Black Wall Street also has a database searchable by category.
2. Petition elected officials
Each year, state and local governments spend billions of dollars on goods and services. According to a federal study by the Minority Business Development Agency, government spending with minority businesses remains far less than with white-owned businesses. Write your elected officials and urge them to break up bundled contracts to give access to smaller and black-owned firms. Additionally, learn about the licensing requirements and fees for businesses in your area. Notice any barriers that only allow a certain group of people to achieve licensing? Advocate for licensing requirements and fees that are accessible and sustainable to everyone.
3. Diversify your vendors and employees
If you are a business owner, assess your diversity practices. Are you intentional in your hiring practices? What about your vendors? If you find diversity is lacking in your own business practice, dig in and get to work. Create a diversity and inclusion mission statement and allow it to guide you as you make hiring and outsourcing decisions. To get started, Grand Rapids Community College offers assistance with supplier diversity, and Hire Reach offers five half-day long sessions to help you learn how to use evidence-based hiring practices to increase diversity in your company.
4. Spread the Word
Customer reviews are a powerful metric that can drive customers to a business. Leave reviews on Google, social media and Yelp for the black-owned businesses you frequent! One great review can be all it takes for someone else to step into that business and potentially become a life-long customer.
5. Follow, Subscribe
Social media followers and newsletter subscribers are a currency that can legitimize a brand and open up additional revenue streams for a brand. Follow, subscribe and engage with black-owned businesses in digital spaces to boost their signal and stay apprised of everything they have going on throughout the year.
While black-women remain the fastest-growing group of new business owners in the United States, according to a report conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, they are the most likely to lack access to business capital based on credit access and operational needs. Microlenders and Community Development Financial Institutions, such as GROW and Rende Progress Capital, offer empathetic lending terms with the goal of reaching groups that lack access to traditional bank loans. Support these organizations ensures that black-owned businesses will be able to access the capital they need to thrive.