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10 Ways to Support Black-Owned Businesses

Jun 20, 2020 • 10+ min read
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      Minority-owned businesses likely play a significant role in your local economy. According to the US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, there are over 4 million minority-owned businesses in the United States, with sales totaling $700 million. 

      Over the last 10 years, these businesses accounted for 50% of the 2 million businesses started in the US, and they created 4.7 million jobs. Look around—the reason your city continues to grow is likely because of the success of these minority-owned small businesses.   

      You can support minority-owned businesses as a consumer and as a business owner. Check out these 7 ways you can help them grow. 

      1. Buy from them.

      The easiest way to support a minority-owned business: buy their goods and services. Whether you’re shopping at a local coffee shop or hiring a florist for your wedding, you can choose to give your business to a minority-owned establishment. 

      Supporting communities of color builds up diverse neighborhoods and furthers the pursuit of equitable prosperity. The money you spend here will not just help build diversity—it will also stay with local businesses, which furthers wealth within your community.

      2. Skip services that take profits from companies.

      This is a rule of thumb that applies to almost any small business: avoid using services like UberEats or Shipt when buying from minority-owned businesses. Instead, see if they have their own local delivery service or pick up the goods yourself instead. 

      National services like DoorDash can take up to 30% of the profits on an order—meaning your support might not stretch as far as you planned. Buying local also includes shipping or delivering services. 

      3. Promote their goods in your business.

      If you work with different vendors to keep your business afloat, look for ways to hire minority-owned companies and promote their products. For example, a breakfast restaurant could serve coffee by a minority-owned roaster or pastries by a minority-owned baker. This partnership advertises their business, grows your selection, and spreads wealth across both of your businesses. 

      4. Write online reviews for minority-owned businesses.

      Feedback in the form of online reviews is one of the best ways for you to support a locally run minority-owned business.

      If you had a great experience, leave a positive comment on Google, Yelp, Facebook, or other review sites. Share photos if you have them. This act might seem small, but you can increase their visibility online and help grow their business—plus it won’t cost you anything beyond a few minutes of your time.  

      5. Sponsor a minority-owned business through the Chamber of Commerce.

      According to the Minority Business Development Agency (part of the US Department of Commerce), there are almost 2.6 million Black-owned businesses in the United States. About 110,000 of them have employees. 

      This statistic means that 96% of Black-owned businesses are individual entrepreneurs or partnerships without employees. These small businesses often miss out on networking opportunities because they can’t afford the fees associated with joining professional organizations or the local Chamber of Commerce. 

      If you are involved in any dues-based organization, offer to sponsor a minority-owned business. This support gives these business owners seats at the table to reap the same benefits as larger, wealthier organizations in your area. 

      6. Offer sliding scale services.

      While the value of your services as a business owner remains the same, not everyone can afford to pay for what you do. Some service providers—like accountants, marketers, and web designers—offer a “pay what you can” program for nonprofits and minority-owned companies.

      This flexibility can significantly benefit minority-owned business owners. For example, many small business owners also take on tasks related to their business’s accounting and taxes. If they had better bookkeeping or were able to take advantage of more tax opportunities, then they could become more profitable. Making your accounting services available in these scenarios could take the financial pressure off the owner and allow them to focus on growing their business.

      Offering your services on a sliding scale can help you support minority-owned businesses that need your services but can’t afford them right now.  

      7. Support internal workforce diversity.

      You may not realize it, but prioritizing diversity in your workplace can help you support minority-owned businesses in your area. Your diverse employees support others in the community and can promote other minority-owned businesses not on your radar. A diverse workplace can also benefit your business: you gain fresh perspectives and new ideas when your team members come from different backgrounds. 

      That being said, you should never expect your employees of color to serve as ambassadors to their communities or put the burden entirely on them to explain race-based issues to you. That would be an unfair request—and a responsibility that your white team members would never have to face. 

      8. The Buy Black movement.

      The #BuyBlack movement spotlights Black- and minority-owned businesses. “I became aware that many Black-owned businesses have purposely not shown their faces in fear of losing customers, this is me included,” Maggie Foster, CEO of ClaudeHome, a boutique design firm in NYC, told TeenVogue.  “I’m working on having anyone that has also felt this way to come together and have our photos taken so we can show the world our beautiful faces. As a Black person that has experienced racism and injustice throughout my life, I am so thankful to have the platform I do to spread awareness and educate others.”

      “Buying Black” has become as much of a values-driven choice as buying green, shopping small, or buying American. My Black Receipt, an initiative started by Kezia Williams, hopes to turn buying Black from a trending hashtag into a longer-term movement by tracking purchases for Black-owned businesses. “When you invest and purchase from a Black-owned business, what you’re really doing is strengthening the Black community,” Williams told CNN. Consumers can upload their purchases into the database, which Williams and her team will use to track the impact of consumer spending on Black-owned businesses, as well as partner with organizations like Yelp to help people find minority-owned businesses more easily.

      To find a local business to support, check directories like the one on My Black Receipt, BlackPages, or Official Black Wall Street. Other lists can be found by industry, like Bon Appetit’s list of Black-owned restaurants across the country or Beyonce’s Black Parade list.

      If you do make a purchase, write a review. Online reviews matter nearly as much as word-of-mouth for online purchases, so writing a review on a platform of your choice can help make your purchase go that much further.

      9. The 15% Pledge.

      Supporting minority-owned businesses isn’t limited to consumer purchases. Evaluate your entire supply chain, from the influencers you follow to where you source your office supplies. 

      That’s exactly why Aurora James, founder and creative director at accessories company Brother Vellies, created the 15% pledge. She called out Target, Sephora, Net-a-Porter, Walmart, Whole Foods, and Shopbop, among others, to diversify their suppliers. “This pledge is not prescriptive, because we understand that each business, each milestone, each change, is unique,” says the 15% Pledge website, urging businesses to “Define and publish a plan for growing the share of Black businesses you empower to at least 15%, alongside a concrete strategy by which you plan to stay accountable to and transparent around your commitment.”

      The nonprofit spun out of a viral Instagram post in response to performative and empty social media campaigns made by retailers with no plans to change but eager not to be left behind by popular sentiment.

      Sephora became the first major US retailer to take the pledge. Currently, out of 290 brands it offers, only 9 are Black-owned. “We are inspired to make the 15% Pledge because we believe it is the right thing to do,” Artemis Patrick, Sephora’s executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, told CNN. This move is part of a longer-term plan to change their supply chain and help more minority-owned businesses grow.

      Rent the Runway also signed the pledge, telling the New York Times, “We’re collectively reckoning with the fact that for far too long, fashion has co-opted the style, inspiration, and ideas of Black culture without ensuring that the people behind the work are properly compensated.”

      Often, word-of-mouth largely determines which brands show up on shelves. Merchandising teams often start with what they’re personally familiar with, and brands pick up steam from there. The important thing is not only giving shelf space but marketing and partnership space, too.

      10. Invest in minority businesses.

      The average entrepreneur is a 35-year-old white male with a degree from an elite university and the youngest of a wealthy family. Centuries of discrimination mean it’s less likely minorities have the kind of inherited generational wealth many white entrepreneurs tap into when they look to start a business. Research also shows that minorities are less likely to be approved for loans or receive investments due to lower collateral, location bias, and credit history.

      In a survey released by Morgan Stanley in 2018, 80% of investors agreed that women- and minority-owned businesses received enough funding to run their businesses when only 18% said they “very frequently” review minority-owned businesses. 

      Talk about a blind spot.

      This blind spot is caused by several factors, with investors citing higher risks for businesses owned by minorities, lack of familiarity, and lack of access to traditional investors in the first place. “Multicultural and women-owned businesses could account for $6.8 trillion in gross receipts if they matched their percentage of the labor force and business revenues were equal to traditional firms,” states the report. “This would represent nearly 3x the current output, with a missed opportunity of $4.4 trillion.”

      Everyone can do their part.

      You don’t need to have a large business in your town or city to support minority-owned companies. By simply being cognizant of where you spend your money and who you support, you can elevate hard workers and impressive brands in your neighborhood.

      About the author
      Derek Miller

      Derek Miller is the CMO of Smack Apparel, the content guru at, the co-founder of Lofty Llama, and a marketing consultant for small businesses. He specializes in entrepreneurship, small business, and digital marketing, and his work has been featured in sites like Entrepreneur, GoDaddy,, and StartupCamp.

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