By Karen Stokes
August is National Black Business Month, a time when individuals and businesses recognize Black-owned businesses across the country.
Historian John William Templeton and engineer Frederick E. Jordan Sr founded National Black Business Month in August 2004 to “drive the policy agenda affecting African American businesses.”
According to BlackEnterprise, Jordan felt compelled to highlight and uplift Black business owners like himself after reflecting on the challenges he faced as a new business owner.
“It’s a month to focus on the way we support Black businesses,” Don Graves, deputy secretary of commerce said. “We have the Minority Development Business Agency which is the single agency across the Federal Government that focuses on the growth and long-term economic success and health of minority businesses.”
The 2021 census on minority-owned businesses showed that Black and African American business owners own approximately 124,551 businesses in the U.S. Black entrepreneurship is a necessary tool for survival for the Black community and the nation.
“I worked years working with President [Joe] Biden and we understand that the overall success of our economy is directly tied to the ability of minority businesses, particularly Black businesses, to succeed,” Graves said. “There have been countless studies that show that our GDP will grow by trillions of dollars, I didn’t say millions or billions but trillions of dollars when we have a more inclusive and just economy. It simply makes economic sense.”
Businesses were hit hard during the pandemic. COVID exacerbated some of the issues already impacting the Black community. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that small business ownership in the U.S. dropped 22% between February 2020 and April 2020, but Black ownership dropped 41% — the greatest decline among all racial groups during the depths of the pandemic.
Graves is optimistic and believes that Black businesses are going to do well as the economy pivots.
“The president and I are focused on the Build Back Better agenda which includes the Infrastructure Plan. We think that with the trillions of dollars that will be spent on bringing our infrastructure into the 21st century will create really meaningful opportunities for Black businesses to help improve our roads and bridges in our community and fix our water systems to remove the lead pipes that are poisoning our kids. They will have the opportunity to lay broadband cable across our country, particularly in our hardest hit, underserved communities. These are going to be massive opportunities for contracts for minority businesses.”
Knowing that diversity fuels economic vitality and uplifts communities, here are some suggestions from Hubspot on ways to support Black businesses.
• Tell someone about a business or product.
• Refer customers to Black-owned businesses.
• Shop early during the holidays.
• Be patient with small businesses.
• Partner with Black-owned companies.
• Buy from Black-owned businesses.
“When you have significant numbers of Black businesses that are participating at high levels, those communities, the entire community does better,” Graves said.