In the U.S., Black Businesses Month is celebrated during the month of August, building on a successful initiative that has been running since 2004. It’s an opportunity to support the 10% of American businesses that are Black-owned, particularly in sectors such as health care, social work, repair and maintenance, beauty salons, and restaurants.
The idea originated in a project launched by the entrepreneur Frederick E Jordan. He saw firsthand, during a 50-year career running his own engineering business, how hard many minority owners found it to get the backing their businesses deserved. Today, statistics suggesting the Black community is under-represented amongst small business owners – as well as more likely to suffer unemployment and poverty – underline why Black Business Month remains as important as ever.
Support from big business
The good news is that large American businesses are waking up to the idea of minority support. Target Corporation, for example, has promised by 2025 to invest more than $2 billion with Black-owned businesses and to add products from more than 500 Black-owned brands to its shelves. Retailer Sephora is pursuing similar targets, as it seeks to become more inclusive in the merchandise it stocks.
It’s not simply an altruistic pursuit. Big business certainly recognizes the moral imperative to embrace diversity, but there is also a commercial opportunity here. The consultant McKinsey has published research suggesting Black consumers are willing to shift about $260 billion of their annual spending to companies that better meet their needs.
Moreover, this is an international issue, with opportunities for product providers and retailers in other global markets. For example, the U.K. launched Black Pound Day in 2020 and in Australia, Indigenous Business Month, a celebration of businesses owned by indigenous Australians, has run since 2015.
Help for Black business owners
Back in the U.S., meanwhile, the resources available to Black business owners are now much more wide-ranging than when Frederick E Jordan first launched Black Business Month. Here are just a few of the services offering help and support in areas such as funding, legal advice, business mentoring, and more:
- Accion Opportunity Fund. This non-profit organization offers loans from $5,000 to $100,000, as well as interactive learning, business coaching, and mentoring. AOF says 90% of the people it helps are diverse, with a focus on people of color, as well as on women.
- Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator. U.S.-based businesses that are certified Black-owned and ready to sell products via Amazon can access a variety of support through this initiative. Help includes cash grants, advertising credits, free imaging, and a range of advisory services.
- Backstage Capital. Venture capital firm Backstage Capital works with underrepresented entrepreneurs, including people of color, women, and the LGBTQ+ community. The company funds businesses in a wide range of industries across the U.S., and also considers international applications for funding.
- Black Business Alliance. The BBA runs workshops, training, and networking events, and also provides loans, mentoring, and coaching.
- Black Connect. This not-for-profit organization creates networking opportunities for Black people across the U.S. Funding is available through pitch competitions, and its Business & Entrepreneur Assessment program offers mentorship.
- Coalition to Back Black Businesses. The coalition provides grants of $5,000 to $25,000 along with coaching for Black-owned businesses in economically vulnerable communities across the U.S. This includes around 80% of U.S. zip codes.
- DivInc Accelerators. This non-profit offers three-month accelerator programs to early-stage tech founders, including people of color. The programs are full-time and include coaching and strategy sessions, as well as networking and legal consulting
- Elevate Together. This is an initiative aimed at Black and Hispanic businesses with five or fewer employees. It runs business workshops, provides technical assistance, and connects entrepreneurs with a small business mentor.
- Foundation for Business Equity. The foundation supports Black entrepreneurs with help as they seek growth capital and corporate and large public contracts.
- Goldman Sachs’ One Million Black Women. The investment bank offers investment capital to Black female entrepreneurs as part of its One Million Black Women campaign.
- Hello Alice Black Business Center. In partnership with the NAACP, Hello Alice provides business guides, a funding database, and a community for Black entrepreneurs to network with one another and key contacts.
- Lemon-AID Foundation. This foundation offers loans, equity investments, and grants to support small businesses, with a focus on minority- and women-owned companies.
- National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC). The NMSDC certifies minority-owned suppliers and connects them with larger corporations looking to diversify their supply chain. These include international organizations to facilitate global trade.
- National Urban League. This group provides counseling, training, mentorship, and support with access to funding for people of color in the U.S.
- Small Business Administration 8(a) Business Development. The 8(a) Business Development program is designed to help majority-owned businesses controlled by socially disadvantaged groups, including Black Americans. It provides mentoring, training, technical support, and advice on procurement.
- US Black Chambers (USBC). The USBC provides training, mentorship, free certification as a Black-owned business, and entry into a Black-owned business directory. It also runs events to support Black entrepreneurs, from boot camps to networking opportunities, and partners with large brands such as Google, Amazon, and Verizon.
- US Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). The MBDA runs several programs to help minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, and also offers a range of grants.
- United States Minority Chamber of Commerce (US MCC). Open to members across the U.S. and Latin America, this group offers networking opportunities, provides regular business training, and hosts events.
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