Black-Owned Businesses
Category: Black Business,Black-Owned Businesses Author: BCDAlliance Date: 6 months ago Comments: 0

Operation Hope, one of the leading financial education and economic empowerment groups serving African Americans, teamed up with global e-commerce powerhouse Shopify to create 1 million Black-owned businesses over the next five years.

John Hope Bryant, the organization’s president and CEO, announced today the HOPE One Million New Black Business & New Black Entrepreneurship Initiative (1MBB) and its goal to develop multitudes of new Black-owned firms throughout the nation in the U.S. by 2030. To achieve this bold mission, Operation HOPE will work closely with Canada’s largest publicly-traded company which estimates the value of its commitment at $130 million over the course of this initiative.

Operation HOPE has also quantified its portion as worth tens of millions of dollars and will secure other partners who will make significant in-kind contributions. In fact,  100 Black Men of America Inc., the country’s top African American-led mentoring organization chaired by influential businessman and civic leader Thomas W. Dortch, Jr., helped initiate the effort as a key founding community partner. In that role, the organization has pledged to supply 1MMB with business mentors nationwide.

“Creating generational wealth through the creation of new Black businesses and Black entrepreneurs is a direct gateway to social justice. The creation of ownership, jobs, and opportunity in a generation helps to strengthen democracy and ensure freedom through self-determination. This is empowerment at scale,” Bryant said in a release. “To have Shopify actively supporting the 1MBB Initiative is a true game changer. Working together, we can scale our business creation platform to help underserved communities and enhance economic prosperity across America.”

“At Shopify, we believe more independent voices make commerce better for everyone. That’s why we work to break down the barriers to entrepreneurship every day,” Shopify President Harley Finkelstein said in a release. “By collaborating with Operation HOPE and working together on our shared passion for helping underserved communities succeed, we believe we can help unlock even more economic opportunities for Black business owners across the country, leading to greater choices for shoppers everywhere.”

Historically, the Black community has faced systemic barriers to entry. Moreover, COVID-19 has further served as an anathema to Black businesses. Operation HOPE reports “that 58% of Black firms were considered at risk or distressed as well as suffering from low profits, low credit scores, or income shocks in the months immediately following the onset of the pandemic And according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, more than 40% of such firms have been forced to close their doors.

Partnered with Shopify, Operation HOPE seeks to address these challenges by reducing impediments, encouraging more entrepreneurs to start and scale businesses and offer business-building tools, resources, and education.

According to Operation Hope, the program has launched its website and will provide guidance for those seeking to participate including :

  • The 1MBB initiative is open to any Black entrepreneur or small business owner who has a dream of starting a business or taking their existing business to the next level.
  • Each entrepreneur will create his/her unique path, depending on their work experience, how far along they are in their business plan and their specific areas of need. There is also a program for those with no experience, just the passion and drive to build a business, by utilizing the HOPE Business in a Box (HBIAB) online training program for those starting at square one. This program consists of a variety of self-paced learning modules and can be completed in as little as 10 weeks.
  • 1MMB provides a wide range of services including creating or modifying a business plan; providing 1:1 small business coaching; getting advice from experts in a variety of areas.

It will also help entrepreneurs launch their operations either in a physical location and/or through an e-commerce platform; and provide guidance on ways to attract funding and customer development/retention.

To learn more about this initiative, visit Organizations looking to work with Operation HOPE and Shopify to advance our mission to help more Black businesses build the future of commerce are encouraged to fill out a form through

Difference Maker: Boosting Black Business
Category: Black-Owned Businesses,Funding,Investment,Local Author: BCDAlliance Date: 7 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: 7 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

Black Organizations Fight Systemic Racism by Supporting Black Businesses
Category: Black-Owned Businesses,Funding Author: BCDAlliance Date: 7 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.


Brooklyn’s Black-Owned Small Businesses Grow Despite Challenges
Category: Black Business,Black-Owned Businesses,Brooklyn,Minority Business,Woman-Owned Author: BCDAlliance Date: 7 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.

Journalist and Entrepreneur Franny Crooks Creates Black-Owned Business Directory Called ‘Black Rich Listings’
Category: Black Business,Black-Owned Businesses Author: BCDAlliance Date: 7 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 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

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: 7 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

As nation celebrates Black Business Month, entrepreneurs launch 100-percent Black-owned equity crowdfunding platform
Category: Black-Owned Businesses,Entrepreneur Author: BCDAlliance Date: 8 months ago Comments: 0

As the nation celebrates Black Business Month, a group of entrepreneurs has launched a 100-percent black-owned equity crowdfunding platform, The 10K Project that is setting out to fund black businesses and bridge the black wealth gap.

As part of a national movement, the 10K Project allows micro investors to join for $100 and have the opportunity to invest in black-owned small businesses. If 10,000 people to invest as little as $100, then there would be $1 million to support these businesses.

In addition to accessing opportunities to invest, members will have access to financial literacy webinars, wealth-building educational resources, community forums, and the ability to network and learn from each other.

Cheree Warrick, a co-founder and the project’s CEO, said that despite the recession, we’ve got to invest and build black businesses.

“Some of the nation’s largest businesses have been created during recessions,” Warrick said. “I also believe black entrepreneurs need a platform where they can find investors since many are not likely to get loans from banks or family members.”

Warrick, who has been writing business plans for more than a decade, said The 10K Project is responding to a growing need to support black entrepreneurs, especially during a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has created such economic uncertainty. She and her co-founders believe that the project has a chance to create a new generation of black investors.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Business Survey, Blacks owned 124,004 firms in 2017 with 32 percent (39,714) of these firms in the healthcare and social services industry.

Additionally, a Groupon and National Black Chamber of Commerce survey reports that 80 percent of black business owners say they encounter greater challenges starting their business because of their race; 76 percent say COVID-19 has negatively impacted their business and 74 percent has fewer chances to create a “successful business and less time to make it successful due to a lack of capital investment and resources.”

Over the past month, the project’s Building Black Wealth Podcast has featured interviews with A’Leilia Bundles, the great-great-granddaughter of the legendary female entrepreneurs, Madame C.J. Walker; George Fraser, the Cleveland based author, entrepreneur, speaker and founder of the 15-year-old PowerNetworking Conference; Lamar Wilson is the Founder of Sunjoined, a company that was created to provide an all-natural CBD from a network of connected growers.

For more information, go to The 10K Project website to download its free e-book and join.

What Black Business Owners Need Most Right Now, According to Black Business Owners
Category: Black-Owned Businesses Author: BCDAlliance Date: 8 months ago Comments: 0

New data tells us what Black entrepreneurs need. Here are a few things you can do to support them.


The day Hello Alice launched in 2017, we committed that our primary focus would be the New Majority of business owners, which includes Black business owners. We did this because we saw the major opportunity to work with some of the fastest-growing companies in the country, while also closing gaps faced by entrepreneurs of color.


In our continued commitment to Black-owned businesses, our company partnered with the business support organizations Black & Brown Founders, DivInc, and Digital Undivided to compile anonymous owner data and publish a new Impact Report on our Black-Owned Business Resource Center that analyzes challenges that the Black business community is facing right now. In responses from more than 28,000 Black owners, 77 percent told us that they need emergency grants immediately. 


One of the owners asking for funds was Bridgette Baker, the owner of Sunshine Remodeling, a New Orleans-based property company. Nobody in her family had been a landlord, and everyone told her she didn’t have the knowledge, let alone the money, to remodel and rent out real estate. But after years of repairing her credit, watching countless home-improvement videos, and building some literal sweat equity alongside her husband, Baker now owns and manages a multifamily unit and a single-family home. The difficult journey was all worth it, she says, because of what it means for her daughter’s future.


“As an African American female, I wanted our daughter to know you can do anything you set your mind to with determination and a zeal to achieve your goals,” she says. “I wanted to put myself in a position to create generational wealth and a legacy for our daughter.”


The term generational wealth might be the key to unlocking the unique challenges facing Black business owners. Talent and hard work are not always enough to overcome a persistent racial wealth gap that puts Black entrepreneurs at a disadvantage when starting a small business. Combine that reality with the challenges of Covid-19, and certain estimates project that more than 40 percent of Black businesses are in danger of closing forever.

While Black entrepreneurs overwhelmingly said in the survey that access to capital is their number one need right now, it’s certainly not the group’s first time facing this issue. Deldelp Medina and Aniyia L. Williams of Black & Brown Founders put it best in the report’s opening letter: “You can’t fix what you don’t even consider counting.” In other words, just because you haven’t been paying attention doesn’t mean these problems are new.

Many business leaders continue to lack a basic understanding of the historical obstacles facing Black business owners because they haven’t taken the time to gather information on the community. We must all gather specific data and educate ourselves on the longstanding institutional barriers standing in the way of success for all New Majority business owners, but particularly the Black community.

Collaborate with organizations that promote entrepreneurs of color

In the report, DivInc CEO Preston James implores business leaders to proactively engage in collaborative partnerships with organizations such as DivInc, Blck VCBlack Women Talk Tech, and Black Innovation Alliance, which help promote underrepresented entrepreneurs and build profitable, high-growth companies. 

Business owners and consumers themselves can also open pocketbooks and seek out collaboration. A great example is My Black Receipt, a campaign led by The Black Upstart and Kezia M. Williams, which quantifies collective purchases from Black-owned businesses, and has so far driven nearly $10 million in sales to Black-owned small businesses.

Finally, community leaders can harness their power and influence. If you hold any sway with governments, foundations, the VC community, or other groups, remember that Black business owners often need access to social capital as much as financial capital. A simple introduction or mentor relationship might change the course of an entrepreneur’s life.

Enterprise has a role to play as well

As Robert F. Smith of Vista Equity Partners points out, “Nowhere is structural racism more apparent than in corporate America. If you think about structural racism and access to capital, 70 percent of African American communities don’t even have a branch bank of any type.”

Black business owners overwhelmingly requested access to funding, with 81 percent of respondents to our survey reporting that they need less than $100,000 to stay in business. Part of this means continuing the call for rent relief, tax deferrals, and tax waivers that business owners are asking for. It’s also about pressuring government leaders to extend emergency funding programs.

In response, Smith is pushing an initiative that urges the nation’s enterprise leaders to invest 2 percent of net income over the next decade into minority communities as a small step toward restoring equity and economic mobility in America.

Tackling these problems will be hard, yes, but leaders who ignore the Black community will do so at their own peril. Black women are already the most educated group in this country and comprise the fastest-growing group of people creating businesses. What could Black entrepreneurs accomplish with the proper support and resources? What incredible innovations, experiences, and generational wealth do we forfeit if we continue to neglect this community?

As for Baker, the Sunshine Remodeling owner, I’m happy to report that she was one of the recipients of the Covid-19 Business for All Emergency Grants. During the crisis, she’s been waiving late fees, extending rental due dates, and assisting tenants with their utility payments. Baker embodies the best of entrepreneurship in our country. Join us in investing time, money, and resources into the Black business community for years to come.

Category: Black-Owned Businesses,Social Media Author: BCDAlliance Date: 8 months ago Comments: 0

After George Floyd was murdered, the outrage brought about calls for change internationally. Many companies are trying to be on the right side of racial justice when it comes to business. With entities like Target identifying Black-owned businesses on its site, Verify Black would be the catalyst to make this widespread across the spectrum, specifically through social media platforms.

The goal is to obtain 50,000 signatures of support to take to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms to make it a reality. BLACK ENTERPRISE spoke to one half of the team trying to make this happen, Vivian Duker. She speaks about why this needs to be done and what they are trying to do to make it a reality.

How did you develop the concept behind “Verify Black?” 

My partner and I, Fred Foster, both have an appreciation for the unique challenges faced by Black-owned businesses—from the lack of equal access to funding, inability to jump-start because of a lower likelihood of friends and family in a financial position to invest, not to mention the fact that general racism and discrimination seeps into every aspect of Black life, and from which the day-to-day of Black business ownership is no exception. Black business owners have an exceptionally difficult time getting businesses off the ground. The statistics show that most Black-owned businesses don’t even have the opportunity to engage in meaningful growth. This has a direct impact on the dollars that flow into and are circulated within the Black community.

When the murder of George Floyd happened, like most people, we both really wanted to do something. We zoomed in on economic justice because we both believe strongly that it is one viable, sustainable way that Black people can come much closer to true equality. Even from the silence in the face of murder that suddenly turned into outrage in the face of property destruction, we see the unfortunate truth that money is one of the only languages American society understands.

Companies are beginning to launch services that identify Black businesses. Why do you feel it’s important to have this on social media platforms like Instagram?

There are quite a number of existing directories dedicated toward making it easier to find Black-owned businesses. Companies like EatOkra have been doing this important work for years, and it remains extremely valuable.

For us, it is really about leveraging an existing platform for our benefit. A lot of Black-owned businesses are already using social media to market their products and services. Between Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, you are looking at traffic of about 4 billion active users every month—within that is a substantial pool of potential customers just waiting to be found. Our goal is to create a mechanism to connect these businesses with those potential customers. Exposure drives revenue.

As social media evolves and creates internal systems that compound benefits for people that already have the exposure, the little guy is really at risk of getting left behind. From our perspective, what seems to really work is meaningful and consistent engagement. Identifying your target audience with specificity and speaking directly to them with content that they care about. Chances are a business owner would already have done this identification work in even developing the concept of their service and/or product, so it really just comes down to being consistent.

Many online businesses have maintained success during this pandemic. For traditional offline businesses, describe some benefits for being a part of “Verify Black.”

We are seriously exploring ways in which we can expand Verify Black to benefit businesses that don’t utilize online marketing and are looking to partner with existing directories to accomplish that. Ultimately, our goal is to create value for all Black-owned businesses seeking more exposure and growth.

Do you feel movements like Black Lives Matter have influenced members of the Black community to support Black businesses more?

Absolutely. It’s sort of a revolution. It almost feels like so many more people than ever are “rooting for everybody Black.” We also really love to see Black-owned businesses taking maximum advantage of this moment to capture and maintain a higher stream of engagement.

How many signatures have been obtained so far and where can readers go to sign the petition?

So far, we have 7,500 signatures. We set the target at 50,000 for two reasons: first, we wanted to give ourselves an opportunity to engage meaningfully with Black business owners and the community as a whole to make sure that we are able to consider and account for a variety of thoughts and ideas; we also wanted to make it clear if and when we are able to engage directly with these social media platforms, that this is something that a critical mass of people would like to see happen. Platforms like Google, Target Online, and Etsy have already built systems to accomplish this very thing. Yelp now lets you know when you’re engaging with a Black-owned business. So we know that it is a feasible model, and we believe that it is transferable to social media platforms.

The petition and additional information about Verify Black are available on our website,

Are there any other ways readers can get involved?

Spread the word! Every single time our content is shared, we get an influx of signatures and, more importantly, really thoughtful questions that help us think through the best way to be of service in this space. Our Instagram is @verifyblck.

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