Breaking Barriers: Resources and Support for Black Entrepreneurs
"Every dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." - Harriet Tubman
Black History is an integral part of American history and we have dedicated the month of February to celebrating the achievements of African Americans. And, although this month-long celebration is winding down--I think it is important to celebrate and recognize these achievements throughout the year.
With that said...
Growing up in the Midwest I witnessed racial tensions as the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum across the country. Since then, there have been some truly noteworthy strides:
Passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and subsequent legislation prohibiting discrimination based on race in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
Increased representation in almost all levels of politics.
Improved educational opportunities between HBUs and the number of Black Americans with college degrees.
Achievements by sports figures, entertainers, and black entrepreneurs:
Oprah Winfrey-media mogul and philanthropist
Robert F. Smith-founder of Vista Equity Partners manages over $70 billion in assets.
Tyler Perry-filmmaker, actor, and playwright who built Tyler Perry Studios--a media empire
Beyoncé-globally renowned musician, actress, and entrepreneur
Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter--Successful rapper, music producer, and entrepreneur.
Daymond John-founder of FUBU, a multi-million dollar fashion brand.
Despite our progress, significant racial disparities and inequities in the U.S. continue--and, unfortunately, the small business sector has been impacted as well.
Black business owners must navigate racism and biases in addition to the daily tasks and usual pressures of running a business. And despite what proved to be a temporary surge in consumer support following the murder of George Floyd -- 46% of Black business owners who advertise their businesses as “Black-Owned” think it is actually a deterrent to non-Black customers.
Not only that but check out these other statistics gathered from leading 3rd party resources:
Only 3% of U.S. businesses are Black-owned
Only 1% of venture capital funding go to Black-owned businesses
Black-owned small businesses were twice as likely to be declined for financing as white-owned businesses
The median revenue for Black-owned small businesses = $24,000 vs. $105,000 for white-owned small businesses
Only 19.3% of Black-owned businesses had employees, compared to 39.3% of all small businesses
Providing access to funding, mentorship, and networks can help break barriers to entrepreneurship, address these disparities, and support the success of Black entrepreneurs.
The good news is that brands like American Express, Goldman Saks, Bank of America, Optimum, Shopify, and Stanley Black & Decker have come together to support black entrepreneurs and black-owned businesses. Today, they even have specific minority grants, loans and events. To take advantage of these programs we have listed below companies and organizations with programs focused on funding and mentoring black-owned businesses:
Amazon: Black Business Accelerator, which provides access to Amazon's resources and expertise, as well as a $150 million investment fund to support Black-owned businesses on the Amazon marketplace.
Backstage Capital: Venture capital firm known in the tech industry for its commitment to investing in companies led by underrepresented founders including people of color and women.
Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs: Although traditional banks, each of these institutions has created minority-specific lending/grant programs--many are truly advantageous for black-and-African American small business owners
Black Founders: Black Founders is a non-profit organization that provides support and resources to Black entrepreneurs in the tech industry, including mentorship, funding, and networking opportunities.
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs): CDFIs are financial institutions that provide affordable financing to underserved communities, including Black-owned businesses.
Founders First Capital Partners: The Founders First Capital Partners offers a unique take on funding with “revenue-based investment” for service-based companies led by minority, veteran, or women founders.
Google: Google for Startups Black Founders Fund provides funding and resources to Black-owned startups in the United States. The fund provides up to $100,000 in non-dilutive funding and access to Google's resources and network.
Harlem Capital Partners (HCP): New York City-based HCP is a venture capital firm focused on investing in women and minority-owned businesses, including Black-owned businesses. They provide funding to startups in their early stages, with an investment range of $750,000 to $1.5 million.
HBCU: The HBCU Venture Capital Fellowship is a nine-month program that provides Black and Latinx students with mentorship, training, and hands-on experience in venture capital.
IFundWomen of Color: IFundWomen is a marketplace for women-owned businesses that provide access to capital, networking, coaching & mentorship. As an outgrowth of this—in late 2021—they launched IFundWomen of Color in partnership with Caress and American Express. Today, IFWOC offers access to debt-free capital through crowdfunding and business grants to female entrepreneurs of color.
Kapor Capital: Oakland-based venture capital firm specializing in funding for women and/or underrepresented people of color founders.
Microsoft: Microsoft for Startups offers resources and support to Black-owned startups, including access to Microsoft technology and services, mentorship and training, and connections to investors and customers.
Minority Business Development Agency: The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce since 1969, works to promote the growth of minority-owned businesses.
NAACP: The NAACP Entrepreneurship Grant offers entrepreneurship grants to support Black-owned businesses in underserved communities. The grants provide funding to help businesses start and grow, as well as access to mentorship and other resources.
NBMBAA: Scale-Up Pitch Challenge is a pitch competition inviting participants to share their business ideas with early-stage investors and venture capitalists with winners receiving a $50,000 grand prize.
New Voices Foundation: The New Voices Foundation provides grant funding to women of color entrepreneurs, including Black women. The grants provide funding to help businesses start and grow, as well as access to mentorship and other resources.
Reign Ventures: Reign Ventures is a venture capital fund that focuses on seed and Series A investment opportunities for companies led by women and minority-led startups.
Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA's 8(a) Business Development program provides business development assistance to small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, including Black entrepreneurs.
The Adversity Fund: This fund is a grant program that provides funding to small businesses owned by people of color, including Black entrepreneurs. The fund provides up to $50,000 in grants to help businesses overcome financial hardships.
These grants, programs, and loans along with many others, can help provide Black entrepreneurs with the funding and resources they need to start and grow successful businesses.
At Biz Made EZ, we honor the contributions of Black entrepreneurs and aim to promote greater equity and inclusion in the business world. With your support, we can help build a more diverse, equitable, and prosperous society for all.
For help with marketing and branding for your small business, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.