2020 September
Difference Maker: Boosting Black Business
Category: Black-Owned Businesses,Funding,Investment,Local Author: BCDAlliance Date: 5 months ago Comments: 0

Evanston Police Officer Tosha Wilson had a steady job and a good credit score but could not get a startup loan for her proposed Black-owned business.

This brought about an epiphany: “There is no way that we’re the only people in this situation.”

So, she started helping small Black-owned businesses raise money via a Facebook Group called Boosting Black Business, which chooses a new local business every month to fund.

Wilson asks members to commit to donating $20 a month.

First there was, Chi Fresh, a West Side food co-op, which received $22,000, Wilson said.

In August, the group raised a similar amount for the business she and her partner created: The Laundry Café.

“You come there and you kind of just reinvent yourself while doing laundry,” she said. “I mean, it seems so weird but it’s something we have to do every day, and you spend an average of two hours in the laundromat. Why not find something to get into that heals the soul? I think as a country we need a whole lot of healing.”

This month’s business is Rose Café, an effort by elementary school teachers who are trying to open a book store in Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood.


Black-owned businesses should adapt to ecommerce, says Katika’s founder
Category: Black-Owned Businesses,Ecommerce Author: BCDAlliance Date: 5 months ago Comments: 0

Jason Coles shares his tips on how Black-owned businesses can thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic by using digital tools.

Ecommerce has seen rocket ship-like growth since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when brick-and-mortar shops closed and consumers shifted to buying goods online.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 has decimated Black-owned businesses on the whole: Over 40% went inactive during the first few months of the pandemic, double the rate of white-owned businesses.

Jason Coles wants to reverse the latter trend, and thinks ecommerce is one way to do it. His company, Katika, is a platform that helps people find products and services from Black-owned businesses locally and internationally with an office in Johannesburg, South Africa.

For the founder and CEO’s Philly Tech Week 2020 presented by Comcast event “Black Business E-Adoption During COVID-19,” Coles shared ways Black-owned businesses can establish themselves online and better participate in ecommerce. (Note that some of his tips could also be used by business owners of other backgrounds who are interested in ecommerce.)

Incorporate your business online.

A factor contributing to Black-owned businesses’ disproportionate decline during the pandemic is that government loans only made it to a disproportionate percentage of them. Many of those businesses missed out on accessing that capital because they didn’t have the right infrastructure to appease the loan-making powers that be. And sole proprietors — which make up 95% of Black-owned businesses — weren’t eligible for PPP funding at first; they became eligible only after the first round passed. (Don’t discount systemic racism, too.)

“The most important thing for applying for [Paycheck Protection Program] loans was having proper infrastructure,” said Coles, whose Katika was recently accepted into Philly Startup Leaders’ second Founded In Philly accelerator.

Coles said doing things like incorporating your business and establishing your employer identification number can help — and can now be done online with sites like RocketLawyer, which he prefers to use over competitors because it’s Black owned.

“Traditionally, these things would be done by paper. Now everything is electronic. You can do all of these things online,” he said.

Online tools can help make branding easier.

Coles recommends building your brand identity with logos and graphics. Fiverr and Upwork can help you connect with freelancers and Canva can help you create your own graphics.

Social media is a tool to better understand your audience.

Using social media and creating customer profiles to reflect your audience can help business owners better reach their customers.

“Look at your product and who your audience is, and that’s how you will understand what social media platforms you will use,” Coles said. “Who’s my audience? What do they buy? When do they shop?”

Your packaging is a key part of how you connect with customers.

“Product, messaging and packaging are important,” he said. “When people open a package, they should receive some kind of message” about who you are and what your company stands for.

Online retailers can help with the shipping process.

Coles recommends using sites like StickermuleAlibaba and Rollo to buy products like labels to support your shipping process.

Black-owned businesses should adapt to ecommerce, says Katika’s founder

Virus, strife prompt ‘resiliency’ funds in Black communities
Category: Uncategorized Author: BCDAlliance Date: 5 months ago Comments: 0

SAN FRANCISCO — The modest cash grant Iguehi James received from the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce helped the clothing designer defray costs, including surge prices on elastic and fabric that jumped dramatically due to the pandemic.

The application process was simple and she qualified for a $5,000 “resiliency” grant, despite being a solo practitioner with no employees or storefront.

Along with the fiscal help, the grant reminded the 38-year-old novice entrepreneur that she is part of a community with a tradition of mobilizing to help members in times of distress.

“We’ve been denied opportunities, we’ve had to work really hard to get to where we are,” said James, who lives in Oakland, California. “When you have other people who know the struggle, know the plight, know how hard it is to be valued … to be seen, you just feel like you have a community.”

The chamber announced this summer that it had raised $1 million for its fund to help Black-owned businesses. It’s one of several launched in the U.S. since the pandemic began closing businesses and schools, and it’s a nod to the difficulty that Black businesses have in landing bank loans and the disproportionate impact the virus has on African American families.

Elsewhere, female Black civic leaders in Washington state unveiled the Black Future Co-op Fund in June to address damage created by systemic racism. The Black Resilience in Colorado Fund aims to help people in the Denver area.

Perhaps the most astonishing grass-roots effort has been in Portland, Oregon, where organizers have raised more than $1.7 million for Black residents of the city that has been in the national spotlight for its nightly protests against police brutality. The Black Resilience Fund has helped nearly 3,000 residents with groceries, utility bills, student loans and rent, according to its GoFundMe page.

Cathy Adams, an event planner and president and CEO of the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce, said discussions about its fund began in late April as small businesses struggled to get help from the federal government’s paycheck protection program. Phone calls from hurting business owners broke Adams’ heart.

Meanwhile, the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May further underscored the inequities faced by African Americans in work, wealth and health.

“This resiliency fund? This is nothing but love,” Adams said.

Aaron Bryant, a curator with the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., says the funds are reminiscent of the benevolent societies that began appearing in New Orleans and Philadelphia in the late 1700s to aid Black people in times of illness, death and other hardships.

“What we see happening now is really important because it shows the humanity, that we still have humanity in spite of all the obstacles that we’re confronting,” he said.

Shawn Ginwright, an education professor in the Africana Studies Department at San Francisco State University, says the funds highlight the discriminatory policies that have shut out Black people from acquiring capital and wealth.

“The real story is not the resilience,” he said. “The real story is why is resilience necessary in the first place.”

In Oakland, Adams approached television stations to generate news coverage about the fund and spent hours on the phone pitching it until her voice grew hoarse. She worried the chamber might not meet its goal, but eventually Adams landed donations from more than 200 companies and individuals, including $200,000 from Clorox and $100,000 each from Blue Shield of California, Kaiser Permanente and online security company Okta

“Several people called me crazy, but I don’t think what they said was personal,” she said. “I just think they did not believe in miracles.”

The chamber expects to award grants to some 150 businesses ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. Only chamber members can apply and recipients must complete a financial management seminar. Grants have been used for marketing, equipment and even a new restaurant location.

James, the designer, beefed up online marketing for her “Love Iguehi” line of colorful masks, head wraps, kaftans and clutches. The business had depended heavily on in-person pop-up events and conferences that have been canceled due to the virus.

The Red Door, a catering company, used its $10,000 grant to help retain seven of its roughly 20 full-time employees and has pivoted to mail-order snacks, pop-up meal events and meal deliveries.

“It’s really about hope, about extending hope,” said founder Reign Free of the grant program. “Once you lose hope, that’s it, you’re done for. They should have named it the Hope project.”



Black Organizations Fight Systemic Racism by Supporting Black Businesses
Category: Black-Owned Businesses,Funding Author: BCDAlliance Date: 5 months ago Comments: 0

Back in April, when the pandemic initially stalled business operations, reports came out that nearly 90 percent of businesses owned by people of color would not receive funding from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

So some regional organizations, such as the Oakland African-American Chamber of Commerce (OAACC), have stepped in to create resiliency funds for Black-owned businesses, CBS SF Bay Area news reported on September 28.  

OAACC reportedly began discussing how it could help small businesses in April and had raised $1 million to support Black-owned businesses by the summer, thanks to donations from more than 200 companies and individuals. According to CBS, Clorox gave $200,000 and Blue Shield of California, Kaiser Permanente and online security company Okta each gave $100,000. The fundraising for Oakland’s Black-owned businesses will continue, with about 150 additional businesses expected to receive grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000.

The need to find resources for one’s own community is not new, which is why the federal government passed the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 to fight racial discrimination in lending.

“What we see happening now is really important because it shows the humanity, that we still have humanity in spite of all the obstacles that we’re confronting,” Aaron Bryant, curator with the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., told CBS.

And OAACC isn’t alone, as other coalitions have formed across the country to do what the federal government hasn’t. In Seattle, for example, mobilized by the May 28 death of George Floyd, four Black women launched the Black Future Co-op Fund “to acknowledge the harm that systemic racism has done to the Black community in our state,” according to its website. The Black Resilience in Colorado Fund (BRIC), which also launched in June, aims to address systemic racism against Denver’s Black residents and support Black nonprofits. Portland’s emergency Black Resilience Fund (BRF) raised more than $1.7 million by September 17 to support 3,200 Black Portlanders, according to its website.



Accenture Launches Black Founders Development Program to Support Black Entrepreneurs
Category: Black Business,Entrepreneur,Minority Business Author: BCDAlliance Date: 6 months ago Comments: 0

Accenture (NYSE: ACN) has launched the Black Founders Development Program, a new initiative that will invest in and support Black technology startup founders and entrepreneurs. Led by Accenture Ventures, the program will seek to help Black business owners and leaders advance and grow their technology businesses through greater, more direct access to venture capital, corporate mentorship and strategic connections with Accenture business partners and clients.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200910005220/en/

Accenture launches Black Founders Development Program

As part of the new program, Accenture Ventures is establishing the Black Founders Development Fund. The fund will make strategic investments in early-stage, Black-founded and -run software startups and other market development initiatives, applying Accenture’s vast technology, innovation and investment expertise, and powerful network of technology ecosystem partners. To help Black entrepreneurs achieve their goals and make a meaningful impact, the commitment of investment funds and a strong mentoring effort will be commensurate with Accenture Ventures’ approach with its most strategic funds. The fund will have an initial focus on North America, with plans to expand globally at a later date.

“Our Black Founders Development Program will help drive economic inclusion and create new advancement opportunities for Black business owners and leaders by bringing to bear the full power of our global technology business and extensive relationships with clients, partners and the venture capital community,” said Kathryn Ross, global Open Innovation lead and the Black Founders Development Program lead for Accenture Ventures. “Leadership, resources, technology and investment knowledge are all areas where Accenture can deliver significant support to Black entrepreneurs, helping them to accelerate innovation and further grow their businesses.”

According to a study by RateMyInvestor and VC Diversity, Black founders of companies receive less than 1% of all venture capital funding, which in the U.S. alone, totaled approximately $130 billion. Similarly, a Kauffman Foundation analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data found that 28% of Black entrepreneurs’ profits were limited by lack of access to capital, compared to just 10% of white entrepreneurs.

“Black entrepreneurs continue to innovate, but face bias and lack access to capital and opportunity in the venture capital community, receiving a disproportionately small amount of funding,” said Paul Daugherty, group chief executive – Technology and chief technology officer at Accenture. “Big change is clearly needed, and Accenture Ventures will help lead that change.”

To help guide its future investment strategy, Accenture Ventures has established a Black Founders Development Advisory Council made up of diverse, established business leaders and partners to help guide and mentor Black founders and CEOs. The first two council members appointed are Kay Koplovitz, founder of USA Networks and the current chairman and co-founder of Springboard Enterprises, a community of nearly 800 women founders and leaders of emerging growth companies spanning the globe and across all industries; and Corey E. Thomas, chairman and CEO of Rapid7, Inc. (Nasdaq: RPD), a leading provider of security analytics and automation, who previously served on the U.S. Commerce Department’s Digital Economy Board of Advisors.

“We intend to play a meaningful role in creating the next generation of Black technology startups, and the demonstrated business leaders on our Black Founders Development Advisory Council are equally committed to sharing their experiences, insights and connections to help Black founders achieve their business objectives,” explains Ross. Accenture Ventures plans to announce additional advisory council members and its first participating founders in the coming months.

The Black Founders Development Program is part of Accenture’s broader effort to fight racism. On September 1, 2020, Accenture CEO Julie Sweet announced that by 2025 the company would increase the representation of African American and Black people in the organization from 9% to 12%; and increase the number of African American and Black managing directors from 2.8% to 4.4%. Other recent company actions include Ms. Sweet’s role as co-chair of the new 27-member New York Jobs CEO Council, a non-profit coalition of CEOs from leading companies that have pledged to hire 100,000 low-income New Yorkers from under-served communities over the next decade.

Launched in 2015, Accenture Ventures makes targeted equity investments in emerging technology startups, matching their capabilities with the business needs and priorities of Accenture’s clients. Its Open Innovation arm acts as a bridge to the global innovation ecosystem by bringing Accenture’s clients together with best-in-class, enterprise-relevant startups to unlock their growth potential and accelerate digital transformation.


Brooklyn’s Black-Owned Small Businesses Grow Despite Challenges
Category: Black Business,Black-Owned Businesses,Brooklyn,Minority Business,Woman-Owned Author: BCDAlliance Date: 6 months ago Comments: 0

Although the pandemic threatens those gains, many entrepreneurs are pushing on and getting creative to weather the storm

“My business is crippled right now,” Kim Morrison told BK Reader. However, it would be a mistake to count her out.

Morrison, the owner of Unique Weddings & Tours, has weathered many storms since launching her company in 2012. The COVID-19 pandemic is the latest obstacle she’s navigating to enable her Prospect–Lefferts Garden travel and events business to thrive.

It’s that type of determination that has helped a number of Black-owned businesses across the borough to expand.

Brooklyn’s Black-owned businesses expand in the face of obstacles

Minority-owned businesses in New York City grew 7.4 percent between 2012 to 2017, according to a recent report by independent think tank Center for an Urban Future.

During that time, the citywide number of Hispanic-owned businesses decreased by 8.7 percent. However, Asian-owned businesses grew by 14 percent, and Black-owned businesses increased at nearly four times the rate of white-owned business.

In Brooklyn, the number of Black-owned businesses surged 16.6 percent during the five years, making Brooklyn the county with the fifth largest number of Black-owned businesses nationwide. Still, Black businesses represent just 3.5 percent of all firms across the city — an indication of the obstacles to success they face.

“It’s very hard for entrepreneurs to survive, not only now with the pandemic, but also before,” Morrison said, adding that many Black entrepreneurs in her network shared that experience.

A significant part of the challenge could be summed by this: A lack of access to capital.

Most Black-owned businesses start at a significant financial disadvantage compared to white-owned businesses, according to The New York Times. Black entrepreneurs launch their businesses with far less capital and typically struggle over the years to stay afloat financially. Banks and other financial institutions tend to view Black and minority entrepreneurs as less credit worthy. Consequently, Black entrepreneurs often rely more heavily on family and friends to fund and sustain their business.

“I appreciate good friends who can help when my business is financially in need,” Morrison said. “They believe in me and helped me believe in myself. That’s why I survived — not because of bank loans.”

Will the pandemic wipe those gains?

Despite the tenacity of many minority-business owners, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens the gains. Between February and April, Black-owned businesses declined nationwide by 41 percent during the lockdown, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York analysis.

The Reserve Bank blamed much of the high attrition rate on the lack of relationships between Black entrepreneurs and financial institutions.

Back in January, Morrison expected 2020 to be a turning point toward solidifying her success until COVID-19 came along and wiped out about 80 percent of her travel business. Her plan B is to launch a customized gift baskets business in October. That will help to keep her business afloat until tourism and events markets bounce back in 2021.

Like Morrison, Nadia Aristide anticipated 2020 would be a breakthrough year for her business and finance consulting firm, Maroon Strategist. She had several contracts on the table before they evaporated with the pandemic, as many of her clients faced an uncertain future.

“I found opportunity in the middle of chaos,” Aristide, Maroon’s president and CFO, said. Aristide has been in business for nearly five years, with an office at Brooklyn Commons co-working space.

Instead of sinking into despair, she studied information from the Small Business Administration on how small businesses could stay afloat during the economic crisis, as well as the loan and grant programs that became available. She soon found herself teaching webinars and helping entrepreneurs who were unaware of the federal lifelines.

How to survive the hard economic times

In these difficult times, Aristide advises her small business clients to know their income and expenditures.

“You need to understand your cash flow and financials, revenue and operating expenses. It’s not just how much money you are making each month. It’s also how much you are spending,” she tells her clients, many of whom are minority-business owners.

She noted that if they wanted to apply for government financial assistance, such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), financial institutions typically require detailed cash flow information.

Aristide has been pleasantly surprised to receive a sudden influx of people who want to start a small business or a nonprofit. Many of them were independent contractors who had no business entity. Consequently, they had no business banking accounts and couldn’t apply for government coronavirus relief funding.

“There is a lack of knowledge in our community. A lot of entrepreneurs who had side hustles had to wake up,” she said.

Where to Find Black-Owned Banks and How You Can Support Them
Category: Black Business,Community Author: BCDAlliance Date: 6 months ago Comments: 0

Since 1865, when President Abraham Lincoln established the Freedman’s Bank, this country has grappled with providing financial access to millions of disenfranchised Americans. Into the void steps a small but influential group of Black-owned banks.

Black-owned does not mean “Black only”

According to Kevin Cohee, Chairman and CEO of OneUnited Bank, the largest Black-owned bank in the U.S., Black-owned banks are designed to meet the financial needs of underserved communities. However, people of all races are welcome to take advantage of their unique services. For customers, it is a win/win situation.

Black-owned banks like OneUnited help create infrastructure and add value to the inner-city areas in which they are located. They also help customers build (or rebuild) their financial reputations and foster a greater sense of community pride. One of the most important goals of Black-owned banks is to help customers become financially literate and provide them with the tools they need to learn how to make money work for them.

Since May 25, 2020 — the day a Minneapolis police officer knelt on 46-year-old George Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes until Floyd was dead — OneUnited Bank has opened 60,000 new accounts. Looking for a way to support the communities that need it most, Americans of all races are doing what they can.

How to become an ally of a Black-owned bank

Like all financial issues, what you do with your hard-earned money deserves careful consideration. Here are some of the benefits to opening an account, making an investment, or taking out a loan with a Black-owned bank:

  • If you already have an established bank account, opening another is a good way to diversify funds. As Cohee says, “Banks are not like wives. You can have more than one.”
  • Having more than one checking account is an easy way to keep track of your money. For example, if you make online purchases using one account, it’s simple to track how much you are spending without wading through all your other purchases.
  • Building an emergency savings account with a second institution is a clever way to train yourself to keep your hands off until the funds are needed.
  • Even today, banking relationships are important. Establishing a working relationship with more than one bank offers more options when it comes time to make a big financial decision.
  • You can feel good about helping to build at-risk communities and being part of something bigger than yourself.

If you decide to become an ally, take a look at this map designed by Blackout Coalition, showing the Black-owned banks and credit unions around the country. Do some research, decide which products and services best suit your needs, and become part of the movement.

The heart of the community

It might be easy to imagine OneUnited Bank’s Cohee as a rich, self-satisfied fat-cat. He has an MBA from the University of Wisconsin, a law degree from Harvard, and success as an investment banker and business owner under his belt. Cohee is indeed a wealthy man, but it was never his ambition to make money for the sake of hoarding. “I was determined to make money quickly so I could switch from being focused on what I was earning to making Black America a place where there was more opportunity.”

To understand Cohee’s goal to start a Black-owned bank, it helps to know where the sentiment was born. He was four years old, sitting in an uncle’s basement in Kansas City, Missouri, surrounded by a room full of Black Power supporters discussing how to improve the lives of their family, friends, and neighbors. He recalls one gentleman turning to him and gently telling him that there were enough good men on the street, fighting to effect change. What the movement needed were young brothers to go out, get a good education, and work within the system to give others a hand up. What the gentleman hoped to see were more Black-owned businesses, Black-owned banks, and Black Americans in a position to help others.

Today, from one of his offices in Compton, California, that is precisely what Cohee and his staff are busy doing. They help customers who are unable to open bank accounts due to past financial problems rebuild their good names and rebuild credit. They loan money so customers can purchase homes and open businesses in low- and moderate-income areas. They provide financial education through an ever-expanding library of entertaining, informative materials. They stay on top of new technology, believing that 21st-century banking will be done almost entirely online.

More than anything else, though, they make their presence known, becoming a permanent anchor around which communities can build.

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Journalist and Entrepreneur Franny Crooks Creates Black-Owned Business Directory Called ‘Black Rich Listings’
Category: Black Business,Black-Owned Businesses Author: BCDAlliance Date: 6 months ago Comments: 0

Black Rich Listings will provide a categorized listing of Black-owned businesses while also providing businesses with grants, business classes, vendor lists, and tutorials.

New York, NY — During a time where the world is on high alert surrounding racism, cultural disparities, and social injustice, steps are being taken to highlight and support Black businesses in ways like never before. Seeing the need to streamline this process, entrepreneur Franny Crooks created the Black Rich Listings directory as a place where consumers can patronize and support categorized Black-owned businesses with a few simple clicks.

Unlike other business directories that simply provide contact information, Black Rich Listings will give back to registered businesses by providing free and low-cost promotional opportunities, business grants and resources, vendor lists, tutorials provided by other black professionals, networking events, and exclusive retreats.

“I wanted to focus on the benefits that businesses will receive when registering. I need to give back to them because that is the only way we can grow as a culture. There are so many great business owners who may not always get the support they need so I hope that Black Rich Listings will change that by providing business owners with a community and resources to win,” says Franny Crooks, Founder.

Black Rich Listings is scheduled to go live on September 15, 2020, and will offer a tiered membership platform with fees paid annually. International Black businesses who ship products and service the United States may also register their businesses and receive the same support.

For more information and to register your business, please visit BlackRichListings.com and follow them on Instagram @blackrichlistings

Black Rich Listings is passionate about seeing the success of Black businesses and for that reason, we want to support you in more ways than just adding your business to our directory. We plan on pouring back into Black Businesses who registered with us by doing Business Grant Giveaways, Business Classes, Business Networking Events, Business Retreats, and more. Black businesses have the least amount of support and mentorship and we want to change that one business at a time.

For press inquiries, contact wegotyou@blackrichlistings.com

Journalist and Entrepreneur Franny Crooks Creates Black-Owned Business Directory Called ‘Black Rich Listings’

The National Business League Aims to Empower 1 Million Black Businesses By 2025
Category: Black Business,Black-Owned Businesses,Community,Minority Business Author: BCDAlliance Date: 6 months ago Comments: 0

Calling itself America’s oldest and largest trade group for Black businesses, the National Business League has aggressive growth plans for the future.

The Washington, D.C.-based business advocacy group aims to boost its current membership from 120,000 to over one million black business owners and professionals in the next five years. It aims to achieve that by launching a national membership drive through its 365 local league chapters starting in January 2021.

In line with its mission, here are some collaborative programs that the NBL is hosting or taking part in to advance Black businesses:

  • The NBL is backing Med Week 2020, a virtual event led by the National Minority Business Development Agency that runs from Sept. 13-19. Get more details about the event here.
  • As part of its newly formed partnership with Comerica Bank,  the NBL will host a Black Capital Access Program Monthly COVID-19 Economic Recovery Webinar Series. The event will help entrepreneurs gain tips and resources on how to become bankable and investable from financial services experts. The first virtual seminar will occur Sept. 17. For more information, visit here.
  • The NBL begins its annual National Black Supplier Conference on Wednesday, November 18, 2020. This year will mark the NBL’s first virtual national conference. It will include panel discussions, workshops, and matchmaking with over 100 corporations looking to provide contracting and procurement opportunities for Black businesses in America and globally. The event is free to all Black businesses affected by COVID-19.  The event will be presented by American Express, General Motors, Comerica Bank, Fiat Chrysler, DTE Energy, Ford, MPS Group, and Toyota.

Dr. Kenneth Harris, the NBL’s president and CEO,  said the organization plans to use its robust digital platform, growing social media apparatus, and significant strategic partnerships throughout the country within the public and private sectors to help reach the national goal.

The membership strategy comes as the NBL just celebrated its 120th anniversary. The group was founded on August 23, 1900, by the iconic Booker T. Washington.

With the special occasion come and gone, the NBL reports it is poised to streamline the integration of the nation’s 2.6 million Black businesses into the global marketplace using technology. It proclaims Black-owned businesses generate $150 billion in annual revenue in the United States while supporting 3.56 million jobs here. This advanced shift into the digital age will be absolutely critical in the post-COVID-19 era, Harris said in a news release.

“Booker T. Washington’s vision is more relevant today than it was 120 years ago, as a new generation of unapologetic Black leadership takes the helm,” he said.  “The revolution won’t be televised; it shall be digitized.”

The National Business League Aims to Empower 1 Million Black Businesses By 2025

Johnny Bailey Explains Why The Key To Black Liberation Is Economic Power
Category: Black Business,Economic Empowerment,Small Business Author: BCDAlliance Date: 6 months ago Comments: 0

Civil Rights leader John Lewis is quoted to have said “freedom is not a state; it is an act. It is not some enchanted garden perched high on a distant plateau where we can finally sit down and rest. Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society.” Freedom was a concept that the forefathers of the United States advocated for. Freedom can mean different things to different people. For Black Americans who have spent centuries feeling unfree, the concept of freedom may seem ever elusive. What does freedom and liberation truly mean to Black people? What does it look like? Johnny Bailey is a Grow with Google DC Digital Coach and the founder of ShineHard Family, who has a passion for economic empowerment. Johnny sat down with Forbes to discuss his platform ShineHard Family, which was designed to close the racial wealth gap. Johnny also discusses his idea of freedom and why economic power is the key to Black liberation.

Janice Gassam Asare: Could you just share a little bit about yourself for the readers who may not be familiar with you? Who is Johnny Bailey?

Johnny Bailey: Sure. I am a social entrepreneur and marketing strategist. I grew up in Petersburg, Virginia, which is a lower socioeconomic environment. I was lucky enough to earn a scholarship to Hampton University for track and field. Studied sports management, came out during the Great Recession in 2008, subprime mortgage loan crisis, and really struggled to find a job for a couple of years. I was looking for a job in the sports industry and it’s already a competitive landscape, but I landed a job at a sports agency, kind of as an intern, really just volunteering my time to get experience. Did that for a couple years [and] had some really great opportunities there with NFL players. Then realized that the agent business didn’t really align with my moral compass, so I transitioned and was able to get a job at Nike as a brand manager, which was an incredible experience where I got to work on global sport moments like [the] Superbowl, All-Star Weekend…and [learned] a lot about storytelling, consumer marketing, event management, and really just culture building within communities.

Had a ton of great relationships there, but I started to feel a bit stifled creatively, where I had an itch to build something of my own, and be who I needed when I was younger and do work that I felt like was more immediately impacting my community. I wasn’t able to get those roles within Nike due to whatever types of systems or favoritism that were in place. I started to build my own thing on the side, which was just a website at the time, and it snowballed into…storytelling, telling the stories of Black millennials to connect, educate, inspire the next generation. That platform was called Shine Hard. Did that for a year, it picked up traction, people started to celebrate it, it was valuable to the community. I continued on. Fast forward…we are now a nonprofit organization based in [Washington] DC with a mission to close the racial wealth gap…I should add, in the community in DC, I was able to accept [a] job with Google as DC’s digital coach, where our mission is to level the playing field for diverse, small business owners. Away from my work at Shine Hard closing the wealth gap, I’m also a digital coach at Google working with small business owners, helping them grow their businesses online.

Asare: That’s a great explanation of your background. So, could you speak a little bit more about the organization, which as you mentioned, is now a nonprofit that you started called ShineHard Family, and how you are working to close the racial wealth gap?

Bailey: Sure. ShineHard Fam is…our [Instagram] handle…but like I said, our mission is to close the racial wealth gap and we have a 7-step methodology that we believe can empower Black millennials [and] Black professionals to increase their net worth, acquire assets and align themselves with generational wealth, because what we find is that individualism is a major problem in the Black community in terms of creating wealth. We’re trying to take a step back and take our communities through seven steps.

It’s learning Black history one, so that we can develop a sense of identity. We can share scripts that can help us feel more empowered when we’re faced with disarming conversations or racist systems that we don’t know how to address. Then the next step is going into personal development where we’re developing a wealth mindset and overcoming imposter syndrome because being a minority in this society, it’s easy to feel as if we are inferior or subordinated and not able to be our best selves. Next, we talk about financial literacy, which is really…shaping the paradigm for Black millennials, because I think what plagues the Black community as a whole is how we define success. We look at celebrities and fame or materialism, and we think income is success. Or we think the perception of success, wealth, fame or income and fame is success. Understanding that the real success needs to be assets, net worth ownership…are you estate planning to extend that wealth to the next generations and the next generation? Then we talk about economics, which is really breaking down societal dynamics around politics, economics, and sociology, and understanding…how the dollar is an economic vote…reprogramming the economic lens. We talk about community building, which is extremely important and developing a framework of functional communities and how we can add value to each other and create win-win scenarios for the Black community…we hope that we can raise the net worth of 500 Black millennials by 25% by the year 2025, and ultimately assume a more self-sufficient and competitive posture politically and economically in this country

Asare: There’s so many layers to what you were sharing. I wanted to ask, from your perspective, what do you think is the first step toward building generational wealth? Especially for people who may come from backgrounds, where they…did not come from a high socioeconomic status.

Bailey: Well, the first step is understanding Black history, understanding how we got to where we are. We have to know that the wealth gap exists, and we have to understand the barriers that have been put in place to limit and stifle us from creating wealth, and we also have to understand the leaders and the pioneers that have fought and worked towards progress in this wealth gap because if we’re not…aware of the problem and…not fired up and pissed off about the problem, there’s going to be a lot of complacency and comfortability. I call it a deep slumber that many of us are in because we’re not aware of how deep of a hole that we’re actually in. Step number one is understanding the history.

Step number two is reshaping the paradigm of what success looks like…generational wealth is what success looks like in this country. In a capitalistic society, you have to know ownership and wealth is the measurement of success, and we teach people how…when we did a survey and we asked…about 300 Black millennials, ‘What’s one thing you wish your schools would have taught you that they didn’t? What’s one thing that your parents didn’t teach you, that you wish they did?’ Overwhelmingly, it was financial literacy…all those types of conversations around finances, personal finance are things that Black people just don’t have. I think sometimes it’s taboo in Black families to talk about money because maybe we’re insecure about our income, and we don’t want our kids to know that we’re not doing well. We don’t talk about it, and that becomes the curse in itself because it was never talked about and it perpetuates from generation to generation. I think those two things are probably the first steps of really closing the gap and waking people up.

Asare: Looking at your bio, you’ve accomplished a lot of things in your life, and I’m sure you’re going to be accomplishing many more things. Just looking at the trajectory that you’ve taken, what or who has really been an inspiration to you, and what really motivates you to do the work that it is that you do?

Bailey: Well, that’s a really good question. I’ve experienced a lot of trauma in my life. I lost my mom to suicide when I was 14. I’m the only child. My parents got married really young and kind of did their own thing. I was living with my grandmother and my aunts, and I’ve bounced around, I traveled a lot as a kid, but one thing that was always consistent within me is that I always had a desire to do something great. I always felt like God had a plan for me to do something very impactful with my life, and everything else that was happening to me or around me felt secondary to that mission of doing something great, living a life that had mattered, right? They say your life is just a dash between two dates. I wanted my dash to be meaningful from as long as I can remember.

I navigated all these, all these places from college, being an athlete and being a student athlete, and working in the sports industry, and learning how to network, and learning how to tell stories and how to navigate a corporate structure too, because there’s a lot that can be learned in that society when you’re a minority in the workplace and having to deal with all of these dynamics and diversity issues that we all face as Black people, and then taking the leap of faith to become entrepreneur, I had to learn another set of skills that just challenged me and inspired me to continue to do the work. Once I saw that I could impact people’s lives and the work that I was doing was inspiring people, it was educating people, it was mobilizing people, then I started to feel very aligned and very fulfilled with what I was doing with my time. It almost was no question that I was doing the right thing because of how I felt and the reception that I was getting from the people that mattered to me. I’m not sure if that directly answers your question, but it was more of just like a journey to find my purpose, and once I hit that spot, I just went deep as I possibly could, and it’s been working out for me ever since.

Asare: We know just based on the stats that there are a lot of millennials, but particularly Black millennials, that are saddled with student loan debt. They might say, ‘Well, Johnny, I can’t invest money because I have six figure student loan debt, or I’m barely making ends meet. Maybe I didn’t earn a degree, but I’m just in a job where I’m living paycheck to paycheck and I can’t seem to save up any money or multiply my money. What can I do to build wealth for me and my family when I can’t seem to make ends meet?’

Bailey: Yeah, that’s really good question, and a popular question as well. We know that millennials came of age during the Great Recession, which created a domino effect of financial woes for our generation and has caused us to delay some of our life milestones…we’re on a slower path to accumulate wealth, and that’s just a fact. I would say one, we have to understand our interest rates on our student loan debt. Now, if you come from a lower socioeconomic status, you might’ve had a federal loan and in a time like this, where there’s Covid-19, you probably have 0% interest on those loans. If you have income, you might still continue to pay. If you do not have income, you now can allocate your focus or your unemployment check or your energies towards generating income elsewhere and not have to worry about your student loans in this particular time. If you have high interest student loans, small private institution, then you probably don’t have the luxury of 0% interest, and you have to pay that. Right? I think in terms of strategy, when it comes to debt payoff versus investing, you have to look at the interest rates because we know that the market, the stock market, is going to return to average of eight to 12% annually. If your interest rate on your student loans is less than that, then it might be a good solution or a strategy to invest simultaneously, while you’re paying down your student loan debt, but you have to decide what strategy…because some people…and a lot of millennials are risk averse because we’ve had so much uncertainty with the economy in our adult lives.

We came out in 2008, most of us, and now here we are 12 years later, finally getting some footing and we’re back in another recession. Many of us unemployed, not able to pay our bills and our student debt. You have to just really understand your own financial situation. I think having a spreadsheet that lets you know how much you’re bringing in, income wise, and what your bills look like. For me, I have a spreadsheet that tells me my debts, my savings and investing and my income. I practice the zero-sum approach to finances where I give all of my money and assignment before I even get it. I know exactly how much I’m going to pay myself every month, and every account that I have, I know how much my bills are, and my debt is, and I’m going to pay that off every month. That way I’m able to track and understand how much I have; how much I need and that works for me. But everybody has to know their own financial identity but understanding your interest rates and the amount that you have is first steps. Log into your account weekly, check your account status and know your financial identity.

Asare: That’s a really good point. A lot of us, I feel, don’t know our interest rates that we’re paying on things, and that can have a huge effect. If you have different interest rates on your loans, there are different options that are available.

The very last question that I wanted to ask you, and I know this is a heavy question, so answer in as little information or as much information as you’d like, but what does Black liberation look like to you?

Bailey: Well…that’s a heavy question. I’m thinking that it’s two things. It’s one, understanding the systematic issues that Black people are facing, making ourselves well aware of the history and the current issues that we’re facing. Thinking about like miseducation, gentrification, mass incarceration, police genocide, diversity and inclusion, wealth distribution…understanding that all of these things are existing simultaneously is giving us a macro look at our status in this society. Once you understand that, you feel maybe a bit overwhelmed, but also empowered to now understand how you can make a difference and almost have a responsibility, a social responsibility, to your community to make a difference and to be a part of the solution…it’s really about building an independent economy for the Black community…I feel what we need to do is aggregation, where we pool our collective resources of talent, of finance and wealth, of just pure population and come together in taking our neighborhoods from a neighborhood where we just eat and sleep and go into communities where we have great businesses. We store our wealth, we store our history and our culture, and we start bouncing our money around, within our community nine to 10 times, like other minority groups in society.

Step number two is we start to find out the majority population and certain cities or communities and we elect officials, politicians that have platforms that support our independent economy and our agendas. Our rights…in that they are going to work with the justice system and the police departments…maybe there needs to be policy reform, but our politicians can help ensure that we’re not being brutalized in the street, that our businesses are not being exploited, that our people are not being exploited and…they’re being fairly treated in the court rooms, things of that nature.

The next step is to use our economic resources that we created in our independent economy and to buy media. We want to get television stations, we want to get radio networks, we want to get cable networks, we want to have a daily newspaper, we want to have publications online where we can tell our stories. We can disseminate information and organize our people and control the narratives that are told about Black people by Black people. Then lastly investing in our education and that’s having group economics, group politics that can help create a plan for our education system…the responsibility of educating our children is on us…but I think it all starts with an independent economy…supporting Black businesses and investing with Black banks and having Black support and Black neighborhoods that are thriving, that are safe and that are supporting that overall plan and vision for our community.

Click here to learn more about Johnny Bailey and the ShineHard Family platform.


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