August 5, 2020

The call for racial justice is echoed in support for Black-owned businesses

August is National Black Business Month. Here are a few ways that you can support Black businesses.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately disrupted Black- and immigrant-owned businesses in the U.S. But there's also been a surge in interest in supporting businesses owned by African Americans. Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash

From February to April 2020, the number of active business owners in the U.S. dropped at a record rate of 22 percent, or 3.3 million businesses. African-American and immigrant businesses were hit especially hard, dropping 41 percent and 36 percent, respectively. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, these figures represent the largest drop on record over a two-month period and losses were felt across nearly all industries.

These numbers are hardly surprising given that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everything from how we do business to how we send our kids to school. But even as the country hunkers down during this health crisis, there’s been a spike in civic participation surrounding the fight against racial injustice. One way consumers are showing their support for communities of color is by supporting Black-owned businesses.

According to a report from Yelp, interest in Black-owned businesses has skyrocketed since the police killing of George Floyd on May 25. Search activity for Black-owned businesses on its app increased 7,043 percent, year-over-year.

“There has been sustained interest in Black-owned businesses since the initial peak at the end of May and beginning of June, and this interest is diversifying past the initial generic searches for Black-owned businesses and restaurants into a wider range of business types,” Justin Norman, Yelp’s vice president of data science, told Business Insider.

In the last two months, Black-owned bookstores have reported selling out of popular titles written by prominent scholars on race and justice, such as Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to be an Antiracist.” Google searches for “black owned businesses near me” hit an all-time high the week after Floyd’s death, as demonstrators hit the streets in protest against police brutality.

“To me, this signals a shift in consumer behavior and habit that I expect will continue,” said Norman.

[Read more: Why our plan to invest in ‘untapped entrepreneurs’ is paying off]

Now, social media and search platforms are joining in to support Black-owned businesses. Facebook announced Tuesday that its partnered with Black Chambers of Commerce across the U.S. to launch “Black Business August.” The social media giant will offer free online training for Black business owners and host virtual events on topics such as finance, health and fashion.

Fellow tech giant Google also announced recently that it’s added a “Black-owned business” label to its business profile offerings. Along with women-led and veteran-led labels, business owners with profiles on Google can now identify as Black-owned.

Here are a few more ways to support Black-owned businesses:

  • Subscribe to The Plug’s daily newsletter which features stories about Black founders and the Black innovation economy.
  • Browse a curated list from Five Fifths, which maintains a Black business database, featuring Black-owned Amazon and Etsy brands.
  • Download apps such as EatOkra and Black Wallet to find Black-owned businesses and services, such as restaurants, salons, and daycares, near you.
  • Shop Black-owned food products online. The Food Network put together this list of food and wine companies started by Black entrepreneurs.

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