National Small Business Week is celebrated during the first week of May every year. This year’s theme, “Building a Better America through Entrepreneurship,” celebrates the resiliency and tenacity of America’s entrepreneurs who are doing their part to power our nation’s economic comeback.
For generations, small businesses across America have shaped the entrepreneurial spirit. Today more than 32 million small businesses employ half of America’s workforce. They also serve as the heart and soul of many communities.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is honoring small businesses with a series of events this year including a live virtual summit, educational sessions, and award presentations. The virtual summit will highlight SBA partners’ involvement in entrepreneurial development, disaster recovery, government contracting, financial development, and overall support for small businesses. It will also focus on access to critical federal resources, educational workshops, and networking to help entrepreneurs pivot and grow in the face of current and future challenges.
Women-owned businesses continue to grow; however, women still face more obstacles than men when launching and growing their businesses. These challenges – mainly securing small business loans – hinder the success of women-owned businesses and their ability to create jobs and grow.
Black women entrepreneurs are also on the rise. JP Morgan noted in 2021 that “Black women are the fastest-growing demographic of entrepreneurs in the U.S.,” accounting for nearly 2.7 million businesses nationwide. Yet, the disparity between white-owned and Black-owned businesses proves that the economy hasn’t been in favor of Black-owned businesses. They only brought in 422 billion dollars in revenue versus white women-owned businesses, which brought in 1.4 trillion dollars in revenue.
During Black History Month, the SBA reaffirmed its commitment to creating funding opportunities that increase equity for small business owners, particularly Black women-owned businesses. The Biden administration and the SBA are making Black women-owned businesses a priority. The SBA administrator, Isabella Casillas Guzman, announced the availability of $1.5 million for 10 new grant opportunities.
The State Of Women-Owned Businesses Report also states that four million new jobs and $981 billion in revenue would be added, if the average revenue of minority women-owned businesses matched that of white women-owned businesses. Additionally, it was found that Black women-owned businesses earned average revenue of $24,000 versus $142,900 among all women-owned businesses. The gap between Black women-owned businesses’ average revenue and all women-owned businesses is the greatest of any minority.
The pandemic took a toll on the economy, and unfortunately, small businesses were hit the hardest. They were forced to limit hours, services, and many had to close their doors permanently. Despite the setbacks, Black women business owners held on. Isha Joseph owns Make Manifest, a clothing and jewelry store in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, which functions as a workshop space for the community. In the first days of the pandemic, Joseph remembers, “It was like a ghost town. It was more the despair. Just people feeling very uncertain. Not knowing what’s going on, not knowing what’s happening.”
The pandemic also inspired many Black women to start their own businesses, often out of necessity. A friend of mine was laid off from her corporate job just as the pandemic hit. With two children, a mortgage, and bills, she chose to start an online business to keep income coming in and for flexibility once her children had to be home-schooled. Now, it is a viable business that has gone far beyond what she could have imagined.
As the pandemic declines, the number of Black-owned businesses in the U.S. is currently around 30% above pre-pandemic levels. That growth has been forged by Black entrepreneurs like Joseph and other Black women business owners.
Continuing to support small businesses, particularly Black-owned businesses, is critical for growth in the U.S. economy. These owners need greater access to capital and legislation that makes it easier to form, grow, and manage their businesses.
I believe one way we can help fill the gap is to first start I believe one way we can help fill the gap is to educate ourselves on antiracism and white privilege, and bring awareness to the racial injustices we face in this country.This actually has a major impact on spending power. We can support Black women-owned businesses beyond social media by putting our money where our mouth is. If you’ve noticed, Target has been at the forefront of including Black-owned businesses on their shelves.
The easiest step to creating a more inclusive world is supporting small businesses. Our money makes a difference. By shifting our spending power towards minority-owned businesses, we’re playing a role in helping to create job opportunities and invest in our local communities.
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Archuleta is an author, poet, blogger, and host of the FearlessINK podcast. Archuleta's work centers Black women, mental health and wellness, and inspiring people to live their fullest potential.