Wow…. What a year! I think 2020 is going to be one of the most memorable years for a lot of us for one reason or another. We’ve experienced a lot of different things, felt a lot of different emotions, and made a lot of adjustments as we tried to handle all the unexpected turns of events that were thrown at us this year. Millions of Americans lost their jobs, thousands died from the deadly COVID-19 virus and hundreds of small business owners lost their entire life’s savings by having to close their businesses. To say that we’re living in unprecedented times feels like an understatement. These defining events will have implications that will last well into the decade.
It’s no secret that Black-Owned Businesses struggle more than any of their counterparts to keep their businesses open. It takes double the effort, double the fight, and double the strength to run even the smallest store when there’s a lack of resources offered to the black community. Loans are almost impossible to get, and when they are offered, the interest rates are extremely high. The Coronavirus Pandemic only made a bad situation worst for small Black-Owned Businesses.
One report from the University of California, Santa Cruz, says that 41 percent of Black-Owned Businesses have been forced to close their doors because of COVID-19 compared to just 17 percent of white-owned businesses. Another report says at least half of the remaining Black-Owned Businesses are still not sure they can ever come back from the loss they suffered due to the shutdown.
When the much-publicized Paycheck Protection Program was introduced back in June, it provided some relief to some small business owners, if they “qualified”. The PPP was designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll and cover any additional benefits, as well as pay rent or interest on mortgages. But 95 percent of Black-Owned Businesses, and 91 percent of Latino-Owned businesses, had virtually no chance of receiving a loan.
In order to qualify for the loan, businesses needed to have a relationship with a bank, and a certain number of employees. Many Black-Owned Businesses don’t have qualified banking relationships because historically, the Black community has always faced discrimination from financial institutions.
The COVID-19 pandemic created a major shift in the way we operate, and with the social distancing guidelines that are set in place by the CDC and state officials, more people are staying home and more business owners are increasing their online presence. In fact, online shopping has increased about 16% since the shutdown went into effect, and big brands like Amazon, Walmart, and Target are dominating, while small Black-Owned Businesses continue to disappear in their shadows.
If there was ever a time to support your local Black Owned Brand, that time is now. “The mountains are high and the rivers are wide, but if we come together we can build a bridge”. These were the words that drove us to create Black Owned Business Network because we believe there is strength in numbers. Check out our story.