6 Ways to Support Black-Owned Businesses
Looking for a way to help the Black community? Put your money where your mouth is and give Black-owned businesses a boost.
The path to Black business ownership has always been crammed with obstacles, deliberately placed and coated in racism. After the abolishment of slavery, Black codes were created as restrictive laws to ensure the availability of Black Americans as cheap labor. During the Reconstruction years, many features of Black codes were reestablished as Jim Crow laws in the South. These restrictions made it extremely hard for Black Americans to own property, receive bank financing, and gain equal access to markets.
Entrepreneurship is a continuous struggle for Black Americans, and that fact has been exacerbated by the recent COVID-19 outbreak. The economic shutdown has hurt Black-owned businesses the most out of all racial and ethnic groups, with a 41 percent drop in Black owners from February to April, according to a recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research. And even though the government created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to assist small businesses, Black business owners were largely shut out. A survey conducted by the Small Business Majority, a small business advocacy organization, revealed that 63 percent of Black and Latino small business owners applied for and received funding, but three in ten did not receive the amount they requested. On top of fighting to keep businesses alive, Black Americans are also disproportionately contracting and dying from COVID-19 and dealing with the weight of relentless police brutality.
Between a global pandemic, systemic racism, and the current recession, the Black community is hurting. That’s why it is so important for people to use their collective voices and power to lift Black Americans up. This can be done by educating yourself, protesting, and learning how to become anti-racist, donating to local grassroots organizations, and so much more. Another good place to start is by supporting Black-owned businesses. Here’s how you can contribute.
Find Black businesses to support through apps and directories
As the saying goes, seek and you shall find. Technology has made that process exceptionally easy. There are a plethora of sources that make finding Black-owned businesses that sell specific products and services simple, including local newspapers publishing Black-owned business lists. Here’s a small list of places to start looking:
Beyond patronizing Black-owned businesses, you can help the Black Lives Matter movement by supporting these 14 charities and organizations.
Invest in Black-owned businesses over the long haul
Buying from a Black-owned business once is great, but one purchase is not going to sustain a company over time. Consider investing your energy and money in businesses that you connect with and can weave into your life for years to come. Millennials and Gen Z have reinvigorated interest in botany and becoming “plant parents,” so if you fall under that category, consider buying your plants from Revive and Bloom. If you drink coffee every morning, brew a cup from Red Bay Coffee instead of relying on gigantic corporations like Starbucks. If you’re looking for clean, safe hair products, turn to Briogeo. Pinpoint the areas of your life that mean something to you and incorporate Black-owned businesses into the fold.
Follow, share, and promote
Social media has become so pervasive that most small businesses now utilize a variety of platforms, from Pinterest to Instagram to TikTok. Showing your support for companies is as easy as following them on a social platform and actively reposting news on their products, services, and achievements. Some really fun Black-owned businesses to follow on social media include Ethel’s Club, Harriett’s Bookshop, Sesi Magazine, Uzo Art, Hama Beauty, and Alexandra Winbush. You can also take it a step further by signing up for their newsletters and remain in direct contact through your inbox.
If you want to learn more about the complexities of racial injustice, pick up these 15 essential books for understanding race relations in America from a Black-owned bookstore.
Leave positive reviews
Carlina Teteris/Getty ImagesWhether you’re visiting a restaurant like the Busy Bee Cafe in Atlanta or a retailer like BLK MKT Vintage in Brooklyn, leave a rating or review. As the world continues to see, words have power, and more people are likely to give Black-owned businesses a chance if they see you’ve had a good experience with them. For every ten reviews a business receives, it experiences an average of 2 percentage points of revenue growth, according to Brookings.
Order from restaurants directly
Did you know that in order for restaurants to be available on food-delivery apps like GrubHub, UberEats, and Seamless, they have to pay anywhere between 20 and 40 percent of their profits in fees? So, rather than immediately turning to your phone to scroll for that third-party delivery app, call the restaurant directly. This small change can make all the difference.
Set up a GoFundMe for local Black-owned businesses
A survey conducted by the Beard Foundation in April predicted that 80 percent of America’s independent restaurants will not survive the consequences (i.e., closures, debt, diminished capacity) of COVID-19. That means both Black-owned restaurants and other businesses will need extra support from their communities to have a chance at survival. Setting up a fund for local businesses not only gives people the opportunity to support but the opportunity for business owners to make it known that they need help. Next, learn the 14 small ways you can fight racism every day.
For more on this important issue, see our guide to the Fight Against Racism.