6 Ways to Offer Allyship to Black Entrepreneurs
Black entrepreneurs still struggle to find funding and feel embraced by the general entrepreneur community. In honor of Black National Business Month, here are six ways you can offer allyship to Black entrepreneurs this month and beyond.
The number of Black entrepreneurs is rising in the business world. The latest numbers estimate there are 3,115,000 Black-owned businesses in the United States alone, and the number is steadily growing. But despite their increasing presence and impact in the business world, Black entrepreneurs still struggle with finding funding, making the right professional connections for growth and feeling embraced by the general entrepreneur community.
August is Black National Business Month which means there's no better time than now to embrace the growth and expansion of Black entrepreneurship in your community. Here are six practical and meaningful ways to support Black entrepreneurs this month and beyond.
1. Do business with Black entrepreneurs
Actions speak louder than words when it comes to supporting Black entrepreneurs. Saying that you support Black-owned businesses is one thing, but actually putting down the money to partner with them, buy their goods or services and do business with them is another level of allyship.
The idea is to identify what your business needs (e.g., business cards from a printer, a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) consultant, a construction company for renovations, etc.), and see if there is a Black-owned provider in your area who would be a good fit.
A significant challenge new Black entrepreneurs face is getting the business they need early in their growth stage to sustain themselves and eventually scale. Offering to partner with a Black entrepreneur is a great way to support them in their most critical stage of growth.
2. Connect Black entrepreneurs with your network
If you aren't looking for a particular service or product that a Black-owned business provides, do you know someone who is? Make meaningful connections and invite Black entrepreneurs into your inner circle to help boost their business and expand their professional network.
Making referrals and meaningful connections is a tried and true way to grow a business. One survey found that 65% of companies' new business comes from referrals. The same can be true for a budding Black entrepreneur. Receiving recognition and referrals from others can support their growth in powerful ways.
Refer a Black entrepreneur's work to colleagues, partners and connections that may be interested.
3. Share their work on social media
For those businesses that don't have a direct relationship with a Black entrepreneur, one easy way to support them is to share their work on social media.
With more than 850 million people on Linkedin, roughly 1 billion active users on Instagram, and 2.93 billion active monthly users on Facebook, even one post or mention can go a long way toward increasing the visibility of a Black entrepreneur's ideas and offerings.
The end result could lead to greater recognition of their work and increased opportunities. Most importantly, sharing on social media costs your business nothing. In fact, it might even raise your profile — and that's a budget line item your CFO would approve.
4. Invite them onto your podcast
Many Black entrepreneurs have something valuable to offer that the world might not know about. Having the opportunity to engage in a podcast or online interview can bring visibility and a voice to their work.
With more than one in four Americans being active listeners of podcasts in the United States as of 2020, even one episode featuring a Black entrepreneur can help them get in front of audiences that they otherwise wouldn't have access to.
Whether your podcast has a high listener count or not, inviting a Black entrepreneur to share their story, connect with your audience and gain visibility is a priceless way to support their growth.
5. Fund their ideas
Some Black entrepreneurs can have a great business model but limited resources. The struggle to get the funding they need to sustain themselves, and their businesses is a real threat to their success.
Unfortunately, only 1% of Black-owned businesses get the loans they apply for. There are several reasons why this could be the case.
For decades, financial institutions have practiced unfair lending discrimination that has impacted the ability of Black entrepreneurs to secure loans. To this day, Black entrepreneurs still face a plethora of funding challenges stemming from the unjust practices of the past. A lack of diversity and unconscious biases at companies contributes to the racial funding gap.
If your business is connected to angel investors or organizations that offer funding, consider connecting them with a Black entrepreneur in your community. Removing the funding barriers for Black-owned companies can help new solutions, products and services to reach the market.
5. Offer mentorship
One of the most overlooked ways of supporting any entrepreneur is through mentorship. One report showed that 92% of small business owners said mentorship had an impact on the growth and survival of their business, yet less than 40% of Black entrepreneurs in one study said they had access to a mentor.
Mentorship is a symbolic passing on of knowledge that can help an entrepreneur reach greater heights in their business, avoid mistakes and create a vision for growth. Without mentorship, some Black entrepreneurs are left struggling unnecessarily.
If you are inspired by a Black entrepreneur and find there's a connection between you, your business and theirs, consider offering to mentor them. Generously sharing your knowledge and experience to support a Black entrepreneur on their success journey can make a world of difference.
Resources for minority-owned businesses
If you are a Black entrepreneur seeking more resources to grow and develop your businesses, consider the following list of resources.
- Connect with the Minority Business Development Agency and join their annual conferences connecting minority entrepreneurs to resources and networking opportunities.
- For Black women entrepreneurs, the Enterprising Women of Color Initiative has programs and seminars that highlight the thought leadership of women of color.
- Black Founders is another great resource offering programs and conferences supporting Black entrepreneurs in the tech industry.
- For Black entrepreneurs who offer products or services, Official Black Wall Street and Black Owned Everything have directories and online storefronts that showcase Black-owned products and help them reach the masses.
All of these resources and many others are available to help Black entrepreneurs find community, build connections and develop the skills to grow and maintain their businesses.
Black entrepreneurship is rising in ways we haven't seen before. More people are innovating in the fields of technology, fashion, music, art, beauty and others. Investing in, supporting and lifting up Black entrepreneurs is a powerful way to offer allyship and support.
By using your business to support Black entrepreneurs and spotlight them within your sphere of influence, you're embracing diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) and using your resources to boost an entrepreneur who may be on the verge of greatness. Whether you're sharing their work on social media or becoming their mentor, there are endless ways to support the success of Black entrepreneurs today and beyond.
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