It has been over 200 years since Thomas Jennings became the first Black entrepreneur to be granted a patent for prototyping the process that would eventually become modern-day dry cleaning. Since then, Black entrepreneurs have played an integral role in shaping the American business landscape. Today, Black entrepreneurs are substantial contributors to the U.S. economy. 140,918 Black- or African American-owned businesses account for $141.billion in annual sales, according to the latest available data. Still, Black-owned businesses only account for roughly 2% of firms across all sectors of the economy.
As we celebrate the rich legacy of Black business ownership this Black History Month — Black Wall Street, “the Golden Age of Black Business,” and much more — we also acknowledge that work needs to be done. To that end, the SBA is committed to helping Black business owners start, grow, expand, or recover their businesses.
- Counseling and Training: Breaking into the marketplace can be intimidating if you don’t know where to begin. Fortunately, the SBA’s network of field offices and resource partners are well positioned to help because they have been there before. They are experts in helping newcomers, including those from traditionally underrepresented communities, write their business plans, find funding, and much more. As for eligible business owners who have already established themselves, specifically, programs like T.H.R.I.V.E. Emerging Leaders Reimagined can help you take your business to the next level.
- Funding: The SBA understands that, like many small business owners, access to capital and cash flow can be a hurdle for entrepreneurs. To make it easier for individuals who may not qualify for traditional financing, the SBA reduces lender risk through its loan programs. SBA-guaranteed loans carry competitive terms and other unique benefits such as lower down payments. The Lender Match tool can help you find funding in your area. If you’re looking for an investor, the SBA can show you how to find one through a Small Business Investment Company.
- Contracting and Business Development Opportunities: The federal government aims to set aside a significant portion of its contracting dollars to small businesses. 5% of that is designated for socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses, a group that the 8(a) Business Development Program was designed to support. When granted 8(a) certification, small businesses can better compete for contracting opportunities. Likewise, through the HUBZone program, the government limits competition by setting aside contracts for qualified businesses in historically underutilized business zones. Additionally, under the guidance of the SBA Mentor-Protégé Program, eligible small business owners can win government contracts through partnerships with experienced companies.