AFRICANGLOBE – It may have been no more than a knee jerk reaction to actions in Ferguson, Missouri.
However, calls for Black boycotts of White businesses were music to the ears of Memphis Black business owners. They often complain of being ignored in their own communities.
Black business operators … Insist they should get their share of the economic pie … Even if it’s just a few slices.
If you looked for a living and breathing definition of the word “Entrepreneur,” Memphis radio legend, Leon Griffin, more than fits the mold of having “been there, done that” when it comes to establishing a business model.
“You gotta have a product. You gotta know, who is your customer? How you plan to reach him,” according to Memphis Businessman Leon Griffin.
Simple and basic principles, yet dozens of Black businesses continue to fail each year in Memphis despite their ownership believing they had a viable product and a profitable game plan. It’s not like consumer dollars aren’t available, even in poor communities, like the Bluff City.
A study done in 2011, projected by 2015, nationwide Black buying power will reach $1.1 trillion dollars. That’s enough money if they were a country that Black consumers could be economically ranked as the 16th largest nation in the world. Yet, in Memphis where Blacks make up more than 60 percent of the population, business income from the Black community generates less than one percent of the total money reaped. The problem? Obstacles real and imagined.
Memphis businessman, Ramone Walker says, “Getting people that can trust you and give you an opportunity. Then getting exposure, that’s the biggest problem.”
“You gotta come up with workman’s comp. You gotta have all the insurances, the liabilities, which is front end costs for a person, you know that’s struggling to come up with,” says Memphis Businessman Charles Howard.
“For Black businesses, the best thing we can do is find syndicates that want to be angels. Because there’s no bank that wants to see you coming,” according to Griffin.
Expanding on that theme, Memphis State Representative, Rameush Akbari, says she’s looking at crafting legislation that could make some of the perceived worst locations for businesses attractive to investors Black or white.
“If there are heavy crimes, there is assistance corporations that come into those areas will receive significant tax breaks to bring jobs to that area. So, I’m in the process of getting legislation drawn up,” says Rep. Rameush Akbari (D), District 91.
As for Leon, who is working on developing a full-service “Tap The App” for Memphis musicians, there remains one painful lesson that may eventually lead to business success.
Griffin says, “Failure has to be even factored into your plan as far as you fall down six…..You get up seven.”
That 2011 study on Black consumers also noted they spend twice as much as others on cellphones and cars.
By: Les Smith