The latest Census numbers show that the number of black-owned businesses (defined as those companies in which African Americans own at least 51 percent of the equity, stock, or interest) jumped 60.5 percent between 2002 and 2007 to 1.9 million.
But, Reuters reports, only about 100,000 of these companies have employees. Far fewer, 14,000, gross $1 million or more in a year.
One vital necessity for any burgeoning business (besides customers) is resources. “Limited access to financing… restricts the ability of minority business enterprises (MBEs) to achieve viability, generate new jobs and, in general, fulfill their potential to contribute to the development of communities in which they operate,” write Timothy Bates, a professor at Wayne State University and Alicia Robb, a senior research fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, in a guest article for Forbes. The two conducted research that found that MBEs rely on financial institutions more than other capital resources, but are more likely to run into issues like higher interest rates or outright rejection when trying to secure a loan or other funding.
MBEs trying to plant a flag in minority neighborhoods are also more likely to use things like consumer credit cards to get their businesses going, which also come at a steep financial cost.
Bates and Robb say the government and its regulators should be better at enforcing existing anti-discrimination laws, and they’re absolutely correct. They also suggest that breaking down barriers at the nation’s financial institutions would help minority-owned businesses get on their feet.
Reuters also provides a list of businesses and organizations that black-owned businesses can turn to for resources including the Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, Black Business Women Online, the Small Business Administration and American Express, whose OPEN Forum program is especially for small businesses.
And working your personal network of resources, even if it’s just a good friend who can spread the word about your new business, can be helpful in building a cadre of loyal customers. Selling your product or service is a great resource as well.