This year marks the 26th anniversary of National Black Business Month, devoted to supporting and celebrating black-owned businesses across the country.
The small business community in America forms the bedrock of the country’s economy. A 2019 study from the Small Business Administration states that small businesses "create two-thirds of net new jobs" and account for "44% of U.S. economic activity." But according to the U.S. Census Bureau, only about 2 million of the over 30 million small businesses in the United States are owned by African-Americans.
National Black Business Month focuses, in part, on addressing the various systemic mechanisms that create less economic opportunities for black Americans. For example, some Chicago-based black-owned business owners recently emphasized the need for fair banking practices and access to capital to jump-start businesses and enhanced contract opportunities for those businesses. They also underlined the need for good-paying career opportunities for black Americans.
Of course, the month also serves as a call to action for individual consumers. Patronizing small businesses is a vital way of participating in the U.S. economy, and frequenting black-owned businesses in particular can help support and grow their representation in the nation’s overall commercial landscape. It is especially imperative to support black-owned businesses at this time, as we face a national reckoning with institutionalized racism, which stifles economic opportunities and outcomes for black Americans. Black-owned small businesses are also being threatened by the COVID crisis, and need customers and clients more than ever.
Here are some ways individual consumers can help support black-owned businesses today:
- If you are in Chicago, you can participate in the Black Business Crawl each Saturday in August. The Crawl is sponsored by TheBlackMall.com. If you are not located in Chicago, look for similar opportunities in your town.
- When you do your shopping, use black-focused websites, such as TheBlackMall.com, an online business directory and marketplace that connects black consumers with black-owned businesses. You can use WeBuyBlack, Support Black Owned, and Nile to find black-owned businesses in your area. An extensive list of black-owned businesses can be found on this site.
- Look into black business groups and associations that support the growth of black-owned businesses. For example, the National Black Chamber of Commerce has many local chapters across the U.S.
There are additional ways you can support African-American and other black entrepreneurs. Consider offering your own services and skills pro bono to assist a growing company or investing in a burgeoning small business. If you are a business owner yourself, look into partnering with a black-owned small business for your mutual benefit. Of course, don’t overlook diversity within your own firm if you are an owner or manager. You can use this month as a reminder to refocus your initiatives and make diversity a priority.