This article was updated on August 12, 2021
August is National Black Business Month, a time when individuals and businesses recognize Black-owned businesses across the country. This month traces its history back to 2004 when Frederick E. Jordan, an engineering entrepreneur, teamed up with John William Templeton, president and executive editor of eAccess Corp - a scholarly publishing company.
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.
The Why Behind Black Business Month
According to a 2021 census on minority-owned businesses, Black and African American business owners own approximately 124,551 businesses in the U.S.
While there’s been growth in black entrepreneurs and businesses over the years, these business owners still face disproportionate inequalities that can hinder their abilities to gain financial support, receive equal wages, and find employment within their local communities.
The concept of Black Business Month is simple: support Black-owned organizations to promote greater economic freedom for Black neighbors and their growing businesses. To that end, Jordan and Templeton have pushed to create a more hospitable environment for black entrepreneurs and businesses to grow by reaching out to:
- Local government officials
- Community leaders
- Venture capitalists
A Look at the Numbers
Looking at the numbers quickly paints a picture of why an initiative like Black Business Month is so important.
Between February and April of 2020, Black business ownership dropped more than 40% due to lack of access to financial relief and funding during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But that’s not the only reason why Black businesses need support—systematic inequalities have hindered Black Americans for decades. As a result, the wealth and wage gap between Black and white families is vast.
More specifically, income inequality, due to the residual effects of slavery and later Jim Crow laws, continues the systemic inequality Black families face today. This is according to The Economic State of Black America in 2020 published by Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA).
On closer inspection, the report lays out a series of statistics that illustrate the magnitude of the divide in Black earning potential.
- Ratios matter - According to the study, the median wealth held by Black families is $17,000. That’s opposed to $171,000 held by White families—a ratio of 10 to one. If current trends continue, the median wealth of Black families is estimated to drop to $0 by 2053.
- Unemployment – Historically, Black unemployment has been twice that of White workers.
- Wage disparity affects generations – Black children are three times as likely to live in poverty as White children.
- Value of home ownership – 42% of Black families own their homes, compared to almost 73% of White families.
- School to prison pipeline – Incarceration rate for Black Americans is six times that of White Americans.
- Mortality matters – Non-Hispanic Black Americans have a life expectancy 3.6 years lower than non-Hispanic White Americans.
How Can My Business Support Black Business Month?
When small businesses come together, they can greatly make an impact in their communities. For Black Business Month, each day of August is an opportunity to give back. Here are seven ways your business can show support.
#1 Shop local
Many small businesses have to buy office supplies or staff lunches or other internal items. Rather than putting dollars toward big-box corporate stores, a small business owner could treat staff to lunch from a Black-owned restaurant each week. Or find needed office supplies from a Black vendor.
#2 Get the fleet servicedAccording to Huffpost, car repair and maintenance shops make up 20% of Black-owned businesses. Need a tune up? Need auto body shop marketing ideas? Take the company cars to a Black-owned repair business.
#3 Use Black directoriesThe internet is full of all kinds of resources for finding Black-owned businesses, and some make it as easy as using an old school phone book. Turn to resources like WeBuyBlack and Black Business Green Book to find Black-owned business options for all of your needs.
#4 Follow the hashtags
With the best intentions, social media can be an incredible resource. Use hashtags like #NationalBlackBusinessMonth, #ShopBlackOwned, #Blackmakers, #Blackowned, #SupportBlackBusiness to find businesses to support.
#5 Partner with a neighbor
Small business owners are in a prime position to help elevate a neighboring Black business by partnering with them on a project or special offer.
#6 Hold vendors accountable
Being an ally often means having someone’s back. In the case of supporting Black businesses, small businesses need to hold others accountable who aren’t being inclusive, whether that’s local organizations, like the Chamber of Commerce, or civic groups.
#7 Make space
So much of business is about getting good attention and PR. When a reporter calls a business for a quote, a small business owner could suggest the names of a Black-owned business instead and pass the mic. You can also help Black-owned businesses by sharing positive reviews and recommendations to local communities or your network of friends and professionals.
How Can My Community Support Black Businesses?
Black businesses continue to show their resilience, operating and thriving against the odds. Communities that wish to promote diversity are finding ways to support Black-owned companies, from startup entrepreneurs to institutions.
Here are some real life examples of how neighborhoods have invested in their community’s Black businesses.
Black Food Fridays
In Charleston, South Carolina, writer, activist, and innovator KJ Kearney noticed something worrying during the COVID-19 pandemic. Black-owned restaurants were struggling. He began tweeting suggestions to his followers to go support, but that wasn’t enough for the serial entrepreneur. Kearney took his movement to Instagram, dubbing it “Black Food Friday’s” and soon people started reaching out, not just from Charleston, but across the country, looking for a way to help and a way to get the word out that their businesses needed help, too.
What began as a social media movement has now developed into a business aimed at directing peoples’ attention and pocketbooks to Black-owned restaurants everywhere through TikTok fact-sharing and a mailing list.
In a similar vein to Black Food Fridays, EatOkra is an app designed to direct diners to Black-owned restaurants. It was founded by Anthony and Janique Edwards in 2016 and is a free directory to restaurants and food trucks in over 20 cities.
Official Black Wall Street
Like LinkedIn but exclusively for Black businesses, Official Black Wall Street directs people to everything from pharmacies to boutiques. The idea is to ensure that dollars reach the Black community and keep circulating there by encouraging intentional spending.
15 Percent Pledge
The non-profit organization, which was established after the the murder of George Floyd, encourages large retailers to dedicate a minimum of 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses. As of May 2021, the non-profit organization has 25 retail partners, including Sephora, West Elm, and Condé Nast’s Vogue.
The term allyship gets thrown around a lot today, but in the noise sometimes its meaning gets obscured. Essentially, allyship is the practice of empathizing with marginalized communities and fighting for social justice and inclusion. To that end, it’s become a way for both individuals and businesses to help out minority groups. And Black Business Month is a great place to start.
Get To Know Black-Owned Businesses on Nextdoor
Sometimes, a virtual introduction can be the first step to a lasting and fruitful business relationship. In today’s busy world, however, researching online or attempting to track someone down via social media can be a time-suck that small business owners can’t afford. That’s why so many business owners are joining Nextdoor.
The hyperlocal neighborhood hub is like a virtual version of your actual neighborhood. Nextdoor is made up of neighbors like those who live down the street, the owner of your favorite ice cream shop, and the principal at your kid’s school—real people, real community members.
That’s why small business owners love it.
By creating a free Business Page on Nextdoor, small business owners can get their name out and begin making connections with their industry peers, potential customers, and vendors. In the case of Black Business Month, Nextdoor provides small business owners with a place to promote their own Black-owned business, partner with a friend’s, or simply spread the word about Black Business Month events taking place in their neighborhood.
United States Census. Women are Leading the Rise of Black-Owned Businesses. www.census.gov/newsroom/blogs/random-samplings/2016/02/women-are-leading-the-rise-of-black-owned-businesses.html
National Calendar Day. Black Business Month - August. nationaldaycalendar.com/black-business-month-august
National Geographic. Black Owned Businesses May Not Survive Covid. www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2020/07/black-owned-businesses-may-not-survive-covid-19/#:~:text=Research%20at%20the%20University%20of,percent%20of%20white%2Downed%20businesses
Black Enterprise.com. Celebrating Black Business. www.blackenterprise.com/celebrating-black-business/
Senate.gov. The State of Black America in 2020. www.jec.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/ccf4dbe2-810a-44f8-b3e7-14f7e5143ba6/economic-state-of-black-america-2020.pdf
People.com. This App Helps You Find Black-Owned Restaurants to Frequent in Your City. https://people.com/food/eatokra-app-helps-find-black-owned-restaurants-in-your-area/
Huffpost. 10 Ways To Support Black Businesses During Black Business Month. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/10-ways-to-support-black-businesses-during-black-business_b_57ade239e4b0e7935e04b00d
Claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. For resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers, pertinent news affecting businesses, and more, follow us at @nextdoorbusiness on Facebook.