Black business owners account for roughly 10 percent of U.S. businesses, and roughly 30 percent of all minority-owned businesses. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, that amounts to approximately 2 million Black-owned businesses. During the month of August, communities far and wide not only honor the rich heritage of Black entrepreneurship through National Black Business Month, but also acknowledge the systemic inequities that Black business owners have faced throughout history, many of which are still prevalent today.
Here are a few great examples of what you can do to seek out, support and champion Black-owned businesses and help communities thrive during the month of August and beyond:
- You can shop at Black-owned businesses! There are numerous directories that have been compiled online, identifying Black-owned businesses in various cities and states. There are also websites and apps that have been created for those purposes, such as Official Black Wall Street, Virginia Black Business Directory and others. A great example of a local directory from a Virginia Main Street (VMS) community would be the Black- and Brown-owned business directory featured on Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance’s (HDR) website that was compiled to help people find and support Black and Brown entrepreneurs in Downtown Harrisonburg.
“As the national movement was unfolding, local and area residents started to become more aware of how they needed to be more supportive of Black- and Brown-owned businesses. Someone started a Facebook group where people began posting about Black- and Brown-owned businesses to build awareness, and that inspired us to take action, creating our own inventory of Black- and Brown-owned downtown businesses to post on our website. We hope that the list will be a measure of success for our community and organization as we place more emphasis on Black and Brown business recruitment and retention, forming valuable partnerships to develop fund raising strategies and new initiatives to ensure that the directory continues to grow and showcase our downtown’s diverse and unique offerings!” – Andrea Dono, Executive Director, Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance (HDR)
- You can post on social media! People can share such aforementioned directories, highlight the businesses they have supported and encourage others to do the same. You can boost National Black Business Month by discussing it on social media and follow/use hashtags, such as #SupportBlackBusiness or #ShareBlackStories.
- You can support causes that assist Black entrepreneurs! Find local and/or regional organizations that help provide opportunities for Black entrepreneurs and consider donating or volunteering to make a lasting difference.
Here are a few great resources to help spotlight and provide needed support to Black-owned businesses:
- Recognizing the importance of championing Black-owned businesses, Main Street America (MSA) will be seeking to build awareness of the impact that Black entrepreneurs have on local economies, and they want to specifically hear how Main Street programs are championing Black-owned businesses and working to advance equitable entrepreneurship in communities throughout the nation! MSA has developed a social media toolkit to help spread the word about National Black Business Month, containing language to accompany various social images. If you are not feeling social, let MSA know how you are celebrating Black-owned businesses by emailing Abby Armato at firstname.lastname@example.org. Business owners can directly share their stores by with MSA by filling out this form.
- Groupon has also created a free promotional toolkit that includes sample posts and other marketing materials, as well as suggestions on how to use them. The suite of assets makes it easy for people to celebrate Black-owned businesses!
- Groupon partnered alongside the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to offer three virtual panel discussions for merchants during the month of August that bring together a national audience of government officials and Black business community leaders. The three panel discussions, Doing Business with Government, Black Business Lending and Navigating COVID-19 and Civil Unrest, will focus on how to foster an inclusive and competitive business environment, how Black-owned businesses can access financial resources and tax incentives to scale and grow a sustainable business and how Black-owned businesses can utilize federal/state COVID-19 grant/loan relief programs and rebuild damaged businesses post-civil unrest. Register today!
During National Black Business Month and beyond, remember to lift up each other, connect minority-owned businesses to consumers, promote educational opportunities and encourage collaboration to help your community unify and prosper!
Lead Image: Merge Coffee Company (Harrisonburg, VA)