By Dr. Frances “Toni” Draper,
AFRO CEO and Publisher
Nearly 20 years ago, historian John William Templeton and engineer Frederick E. Jordan Sr. declared August as National Black Business Month to “drive the policy agenda affecting the 2.6 million African American businesses.”
Today, according to the latest data, there are more than three million Black- owned businesses in the United States. The highest percentage of Black-owned businesses is in Atlanta, Ga. The highest ratio of Black-owned businesses is in Washington, D.C., and the state of New York has the most Black-owned firms.
Black-owned businesses employed roughly 1.3 million people, as of 2022.
Percentages, ratios and statistics— impressive, right? Well, not really. Consider these facts:
While Black-owned businesses continue to grow, nearly 45 percent are still owned by those who are in the “Silent Generation” (those born between 1928 and 1945)
According to Pew Research, most Black-owned businesses offer some type of service, opposed to selling products
Nearly 38 percent of Black businesses are in health care and social assistance, repair and maintenance, and personal and laundry services. Other categories include advertising firms, auto dealerships, consulting services, restaurants, beauty care (barber shops/beauty salons) and more
Of the two million Black businesses, approximately only 107,000 have actual employees
There are only a few Black-owned firms that generate billions of dollars in annual revenue, but many that generate millions
African Americans make up more than 13 percent of the U.S. population, but only own 7 percent of the businesses.
There are many reasons for these disappointing statistics, including racism, discrimination, predatory lending and lack of capitol as deterrents to business growth. Too many Black business owners have been unfairly turned down by banks when applying for small business loans. However, there are some banks and financial institutions who have special lending programs to benefit Black businesses.
As a recent guest on the AFRO’s award-winning show the Chicken Boxx (it’s live every Thursday at noon on Facebook– yes Boxx with a double “x” on the end) recently pointed out, many Black business owners need technical assistance including how to properly start and manage a successful business.
Throughout the United States there are several unique opportunities for African-American business owners to network with key decision makers, as well as to apply for grant programs and trainings. AARP, for example, has compiled an extensive list of agencies and companies that provide free help to Black owned businesses (see more at http://www.smallbizrc.org/action-plans).
In this edition of the AFRO, there are tips for diverse suppliers seeking to do business with T. Rowe Price; as well as stories about: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s new credit union; CLLTIVLY, the Black philanthropy network that has raised over one million dollars for Black organizations; Creative Marketing Resources, the nation’s largest Black-owned cause marketing agency; and the March family, owners and operators of several funeral homes as well as the largest African-American owned and operated cemetery in the United States, King Memorial Park. There is even a story on artificial intelligence (AI) and the disruption to different sectors of the Black business industry. These are just a few examples of the great journalism created and curated by our talented editors and writers.
I invite you to enjoy every one of them! I also urge you to support Black businesses this month (and every month for that matter). Be intentional and deliberate about buying products and services from Black businesses in your community and online, and urging others to do the same.
If you are reading this article, you most likely have a subscription to the AFRO. Thank you for partnering with us. Your support helps to continue the work that was started by my great grandfather, John H. Murphy Sr. 131 years ago. Please encourage your friends and family members to subscribe as well.
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Again, kudos to the dedicated AFRO team who works tirelessly every day to produce news for and about our community.
Happy Black Business Month to all!