AFRICANGLOBE – In honor of Black History Month, I am taking a look at African-American businesses and entrepreneurs. In 1972, the U.S. Census Bureau recorded 195,000 Black-owned firms. From 2002 to 2007, the number increased by 60.5 percent to 1.9 million, more than triple the national rate of 18.0 percent. Over the same period, receipts generated by Black-owned businesses increased 55.1 percent to $137.5 billion. In 2007, Monterey County Black-owned businesses represented 2.4 percent of the 31,711 total businesses and statewide they represented 4 percent of the 3.4 million 2007 total.
However, currently there is no Black-majority-owned company in the Fortune 500 rankings and only 15 Black executives have ever made it to the chairman or CEO position of a Fortune 500 company. Only five remain currently.
Each year, Black Enterprise, a publication for Black entrepreneurship and wealth building, lists its ranking of the top Black-owned businesses in the U.S. Companies on the list represent the best of the best in enterprise and innovation in industries including industrial/service, auto, advertising and financial services. In 2013 the industrial/service category listed revenues of $21.8 billion, a 14.3 percent increase over 2011; auto listed $8 billion, an increase of 11.4 percent; advertising listed $308.2 million, a 7.2 percent increase and banks at $5.4 billion, reflecting a 2 percent dip. The top five Black businesses in 2014 were World Wide Technology of Maryland Heights, Missouri; ACT-1 Group of Torrance; Bridgewater Interiors L.L.C. of Detroit; Modular Assembly Innovations L.L.C. of Dublin, Ohio, and Manna Inc. of Louisville, Kentucky.
While Black-owned businesses saw growth from 2002 to 2007, many were hurt in 2008 because of the economic downturn, particularly in hard-hit cities like Detroit, Houston, Chicago and New York. The good news is the economy is coming back and help is available through funding, counseling, assistance with federal contracts, and tips and encouragement from other Black entrepreneurs. See www.gofreegovernmentmoney.com for more details.
The Small Business Administration has partnered with the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce to increase awareness and involvement of Black–owned businesses in programs designed to help them get started and thrive (www.usblackchamber.org. These programs cover topics like getting loans, participating in government contracts, and receiving advice and training. The Minority Business Development Agency is also a great resource, with programs and training specially designed to support minority owned businesses (www.mbda.gov). The National Minority Business Council is a nonprofit corporation that has been around since 1972 and it is dedicated to training and supporting woman- and minority-owned businesses (nmbc.org).
We should not underestimate the inspiration that a good role model can provide to potential entrepreneurs. A good example is Tristan Walker, founder and CEO of Walker & Co. Brands. He made a big impression on Silicon Valley by getting a great education, working hard, getting more education and turning a good idea into a good business. He used motivation, persistence and hustle to impress, and was able to raise $9.3 million from top Silicon Valley investors.
Walker’s hustle and charisma aren’t the only reasons for his fame. Walker is Black and in Silicon Valley, even in 2015, a visible, successful African-American is big news.
A big salute to the almost 2 million Black-owned businesses.
By: Mary Claypool
Ms. Claypool is an adviser with Claypool Consulting and former executive director of the Monterey County Business Council. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 917-3777.