The contributions Black business owners have made to entrepreneurship in the U.S. are indispensable. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there are over 3 million Black-owned businesses from coast to coast, accounting for billions of dollars in annual revenue to the U.S. economy. That is a figure worth celebrating this February, Black History Month. Like many in the small business community, however, Black-owned businesses have seen their share of challenges throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Black entrepreneurs are resolute. In fact, in the first year of the pandemic alone, there were more new Black-owned businesses proportionate to the total population than at any time in the previous 25 years.
Many Black entrepreneurs show the grit, ingenuity, and resourcefulness to start, grow, and maintain thriving businesses — even in the face of tremendous adversity. Take Christopher Finnick, CEO of Mama’s Southern Style BBQ II in Mauxhall, NJ, for example. When the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to serve his family-owned and operated restaurant a serious setback, Christopher consulted his local Small Business Development Center for advice on how to stay open. With his local center’s help, Christopher was able to obtain disaster loans to keep Mama’s Southern Style BBQ II cooking. It was this determination and savvy that led to him being named New Jersey 2020 Small Business Person of the Year.
There are many Black entrepreneurs with unlimited potential across the nation, and the SBA stands ready to help them realize, achieve, and even rebuild their goals in 2022 and beyond:
- Local Support: Perhaps you’re seeking ongoing mentorship, or maybe you just have a one-time business question. Either way, local SBA resource partners — SCORE, Small Business Development Centers, Veterans Business Outreach Centers, Women’s Business Centers, and Community Navigators — are at your service. The SBA network consists of experts who can direct you toward tools and connections that will guide your business to the next level. And SBA partners are available remotely via phone, email, or video chat.
- Access to Capital: You can’t get your business off the ground and keep it afloat without funding. The SBA understands this, and that is why we’ve established programs like SBA-backed loans. Do you find yourself unable to obtain a business loan with reasonable rates and terms despite being creditworthy? SBA-backed loans may be a good option for you. The SBA also offers grant programs for businesses in specialized fields — Small Business and Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Technology Transfer (STTR), to name a few.
- Contracting Opportunities: The federal government aims to award 23% of all federal contracting dollars to small businesses, creating tremendous opportunities for growth. The SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program, for example, is geared toward small disadvantaged businesses — a group that the federal government aims to set aside 5% of contracting dollars for annually. There are also additional contracting assistance programs to help small businesses win federal contracts through mentorship and exclusive contracting opportunities.
- Learning Platform: It’s all about empowering and equipping small business owners and that’s what the SBA’s online learning programs do. The SBA Learning Platform serves as an educational steppingstone for every stage of an entrepreneur’s experience, from plan to launch to growth. SBA’s Ascent, designed to assist women business owners with strategies toward growth and success, includes e-learning resources on a variety of topics. For promising small businesses in America’s underserved cities that are farther along in their journey, there is also the Emerging Leaders Initiative