African American History Month

Administrator McMahon and Corliss Udoema

Entrepreneurship is part of African Americans’ history… and future

Damon Hopson wasn’t sure his professional cleaning company, Consultant Services, Inc., could remain in business when his clients were past due on invoices, but an SBA-guaranteed loan in 2007 helped him bridge the gap. Since then, he has cut his debt, built his profit margin, and grown his workforce to 49 employees.

Vedas Bey developed a three-year strategic growth plan for her business, Steel City Contracting, LLC, through counseling she got in the SBA’s Emerging Leaders program and through her local SCORE chapter. Profits have risen 30% each year and the company has grown to staff of 15.

Corliss Udoema of Contract Solutions, Inc., was able to grow her professional staffing and management support service business with assistance from SBA’s 8(a) Business Development and Mentor-Protégé programs. She was recognized as the SBA’s Virginia Small Business Person of the Year in 2017.

Each of these entrepreneurs had an idea, took a risk and built a business. And now they are just a few of the many “success stories” of the U.S. Small Business Administration. As we celebrate National African American History Month, I am proud to lead an Agency that has played a role in the personal history of so many minority entrepreneurs.

According to the latest data from the SBA’s Office of Advocacy, African Americans own 2.6 million small businesses. They employ 975,000 people and generate more than $150 billion in annual receipts. These successes not only help individuals secure a brighter future for themselves and their families, they make their neighborhoods vibrant places to live and work and help our economy prosper. The SBA continues working to position African American entrepreneurs for success in business through its lending, contracting and counseling programs:

  • Capital Access: So far in FY2018, both the number and dollar amount of SBA-guaranteed loans to African American small business owners are up significantly over FY2017. The number of loans is up 30% over last year, and the dollar amount of those loans is up 24%. The microloan program, which provides loans of less than $50, 000, reached an all-time high of $63 million in loans to 4, 600 small businesses – with African Americans making up a third of the borrowers.
  • Contracting: The SBA’s 8(a) program ensures minority entrepreneurs have access to government contracts, and the HUBZone program helps small businesses in Historically Underutilized Business Zones in urban and rural communities get preferred access.
  • Counseling: The SBA’s 68 district offices and vast network of resource partners ensure entrepreneurs seeking advice for starting or growing a business can find mentors in their own communities. These include Veterans Business Outreach Centers, Small Business Development Centers, SCORE chapters, and Women’s Business Centers. In fact, almost 60% of African American-owned businesses are women-owned.

Success stories and statistics like these provide only a snapshot of the valuable contributions African Americans make to our economy and communities. But they also serve as an inspiration to others who have their own visions of entrepreneurial leadership. This month, as we honor the history of African Americans, we also celebrate the role they now play in building a more prosperous tomorrow.

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