During the first three months of the pandemic, approximately 442,000 – or 41% – of Black businesses shuttered.
As COVID-19 continues to hamper progress, the overall decline of small and minority-owned firms remains striking.
Data culled from multiple studies revealed that Latinx business owners fell by 32% and Asian business owners dropped by 26% percent. Meanwhile, the number of White business owners fell by 17%.
While the current climate has exacerbated the wealth gap and unveiled the unimagined financial straits of Black and other minority companies, studies also revealed that about 58% of African American-owned businesses were at risk of fiscal distress even before the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020.
“There’s no question it has been a challenge,” Ron Busby said, the president and CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. in Washington, D.C.
He was a guest on PBS-TV’s “The Chavis Chronicles,” hosted by NNPA President and CEO Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
“Last year was a difficult time for most businesses in America with COVID, the murder of George Floyd, and the stimulus package – or lack thereof, in our community,” he continued. “When you talk to Black business owners, very few received any stimulus money. We lost 41% of Black businesses, and many of them will never re-open, and many of those firms had employees, vendors, and customers.”
Such losses critically hurt the tax base in Black communities while white firms have stepped in to replace some of the lost businesses, Busby noted.
To better understand the alarming loss of Black-owned firms, reviewing pre-pandemic statistics, which reveal that between 2012 and 2017, Black-owned businesses with no employees in the United States increased 19.2 percent.
According to BlackDemographics.com, receipts generated by Black-owned businesses with no employees during the same period increased from $46.8 billion in 2012 to $65.7 billion in 2017.
Overall, Black-owned employer businesses in the United States increased 13.6% percent, while the number of employees at those firms rose by 23.9%.
“It’s difficult to start a business out of the gate, and it’s going to be tough to try and have them come back,” Busby stated.
He said the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. supports African American Chambers of Commerce and business organizations by helping them develop and grow Black enterprises. It also works with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce by joining quarterly discussions on issues pertinent to African American business owners.
“We also have an entire economic conversation about America,” Busby said. “For us to have a great America, there must be a great Black America. So, to have a great Black America, we’ve got to have great Black businesses.”
Busby also bristled at the continued conversation surrounding the more than $1 trillion Black Americans contribute to the economy.
“It’s an interesting number,” Busby said. “Usually, it’s corporate America saying Black consumers have $1 trillion. How can we market to them to make sure that they get their share? The U.S. Black Chamber says we as Black consumers have $1 trillion. How can we keep that in our community to make sure that our communities have sustainability?”
Born in Houston, Texas, and raised in Oakland, Calif., Busby said the Black Panthers, whose father served as a member, displayed a commitment to the Black community that has helped him keep his resolve to better the plight of African Americans.
“I saw the impact that Black men have on communities, making sure that we are leading each other in a positive environment,” Busby reminisced.
Busby added that the Black Chamber also focuses on expanding throughout the globe.
“We think about the Black dollar globally because that’s the future for Black businesses,” Busby said.