In any given community, there are those fundamental financial pillars that give people their independence, dignity, and freedom. In the America of the past, it used to be freedom, and we all know how black people got the rawest part of that deal.
In today’s America, that is denoted by the possession of assets that can be used to generate income and wealth. These assets include things like land, properties, businesses, and jobs.
In as far as owning a business go for the black community in America, you should know that there were at least 2.3 million black-owned businesses at the end of 2019. Up from 1.9 million recorded back in 2007.
While these figures are no mean feat, they still leave a lot to be desired. There could be more black-owned businesses in the country. To put things into perspective, think of the fact that the black community makes up 12% of the American population, yet own just 2% of the businesses in the country. Bummer, right!
In keeping with the recent Black History Month, we are going to highlight programs and initiatives in Atlanta that make it easier for black-owned businesses to flourish. However, before we delve into that, let us acknowledge New York City as the leading city in America with the highest recorded numbers of black-owned businesses.
Atlanta comes in second after the Big Apple, with some 176,245 businesses owned by the black community. So what makes Atlanta, the second-best city for budding businesses owned by the black community?
WeBuyBlack.com is an international marketplace designed as a platform where the black community can purchase products and services offered by black entrepreneurs. Think of it as Amazon, but mostly stocking commodities from black-owned businesses.
The platform has been holding its convention – WeBuy Black Convention – since 2018, in an effort to create awareness and encourage more people to ‘buy black’. During the conventions, there are workshops hosted by small businesses looking to pitch their products to the market.
The convention also provides an opportune chance for black entrepreneurs to network, share experiences, and hopefully come up with a synergy partnership. There are also pitch competitions held during the convention.
This is an initiative that hosts about 100 activities annually, recording at least 5,000 participants. The goal of the initiative is to increase the influence of black-owned businesses within the Metro Atlanta area.
The Atlanta Black Chambers advocates for and supports black-owned businesses. Black entrepreneurs can join the program and benefit from attending training sessions and business events. The program also lists a comprehensive directory of African American-owned businesses.
This is an initiative that is out to address the fact that the underrepresented population currently makes up 40% of startup founders. However, their startups only get 5% of the funding available in America to boost such startups.
Startup Runaway acts like a bridge connecting entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities to their potential first investor. The program focuses mainly on early-stage funding, and to benefit, the founders need to sign up on their website, add team members, and answer a questionnaire.
The University of Georgia (UGA) has a Metro-Atlanta wing focusing on empowering businesses owned by the minority. The wing provides resources, programming, and courses that empower people from underrepresented communities, helping them to wade through the water of business.
The organization also hosts the Minority Business Summit, which brings people from underrepresented communities together to share, network, and chart the way forward with regards to business growth and opportunities.
The program also includes a Prime Development Program, which trains entrepreneurs on how to work with government entities and bigger corporations.
Started by Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon, The Village Market is run based on the mantra “Support is a Verb.” The organization prides itself on having built one of the most successful platforms helping African American entrepreneurs connect their businesses to consumers.
It does so by providing education, training, and opportunities for black-owned businesses to showcase their products at various marketplace events. It is reported that companies enlisted in the program make on average between $3,000 and $6,000 in sales during the five hours of a particular marketplace event.
The Village Market has now embarked on an expansion drive beyond Atlanta to reach other small businesses in at least 21 states and four countries.
Few cities in America, like Atlanta and New York, have become good examples of how black-owned businesses can be supported to flourish. It is true there are many obstacles black entrepreneurs face that their white counterparts naturally don’t.
Programs such as those listed above could be initiated across more states in America, and they will go a long way towards growing black-owned businesses in the country.