The percentage of black owned businesses in the U.S. has been increasing steadily over the last decade. Still, many black owned small businesses face unequal disadvantages when it comes to securing finances.
On average, black owned businesses have faced a much harder road to success than most. While that is changing, the fight for equity in business is not over yet. However, many excellent resources are available to help black owned businesses. Here are some of the best resources for black owned business owners.
Black Owned Business Resources
Black Business Association (BBA)
The Black Business Association supports black owned businesses through advocacy, legislation reform, networking events, and charity. One ongoing BBA initiative is the “Feed Our Community” program. This charity initiative donates money to black-owned restaurants, which provide free hot meals for their local communities.
The BBA is also active in monitoring and championing state and federal legislation that can benefit black owned businesses in America. In addition, the BBA hosts events for black entrepreneurs to network, expand their resources, and build stronger communal bonds. Visit the BBA website to learn more about past and upcoming events.
The Black Founders is committed to helping black entrepreneurs succeed in technology.
Black Founders was started in 2011 in response to startlingly low rates of black entrepreneurs in the tech industry. The organization works to encourage black entrepreneurs through educational training and a community-centered approach to entrepreneurship.
Black Founders hosts several events across the country, serving various needs. Their events include networking, tech conferences, educational workshops, and more.
Black Founders is more of a niche resource than others on this list, as they primarily focus on black tech entrepreneurs. But any black owned small businesses in the tech industry could benefit from the support Black Founders can provide.
JumpStart is a non-profit venture development organization not explicitly targeted at black owned businesses. Instead, this organization’s mission is to “unlock the full potential of entrepreneurship to transform entire communities.” JumpStart focuses on helping underprivileged business owners and communities reach their full potential by providing better access to resources and capital.
JumpStart helps many small businesses through investment, events, educational resources, and training seminars.
Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
The Minority Business Development Agency is a U.S. Department of Commerce branch. The MBDA’s services and offerings are expansive and help black owned businesses in several ways.
The MBDA has business centers in areas with high concentrations of minority-owned businesses all around the country. These centers are staffed by business experts who can help enterprises to secure capital, compete for contracts, and more. The agency’s website has a complete list of MBDA business centers.
The MBDA also has several specialty centers which provide more focused services for black owned businesses in specific industries. The three types of MBDA specialty centers are Advanced Manufacturing Centers, Export Centers, and Federal Procurement Centers.
Another way the MBDA assists minority-owned businesses is through grant programs. The MBDA provides many grant opportunities for minority-owned businesses, inner-city businesses, and more. These programs offer support for minority-owned businesses and minority entrepreneurs around the country.
National Minority Business Council (NMBC)
The National Minority Business Council is a non-profit corporation that provides business assistance, education, and other services to minority-owned businesses. The NMBC is based in New York City and conducts most of its business in the tri-state area encompassing New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. However, the NMBC does work with minority-owned businesses nationwide as well.
The NMBC hosts management workshops, business education and training seminars, and several other programs devoted to minority-owned businesses. Among the NMBC’s programs are the Women’s Business Committee, Executive Management Program, and Entrepreneurial Bootcamp.
National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)
The NMSDC is a non-profit advocacy group that seeks to empower all minority-owned businesses. The NMSDC’s primary goal is to facilitate stronger connections between minority-owned businesses and other enterprises. NMSDC members have access to a vast network of resources and connections.
The organization’s main initiatives are to help minority-owned businesses secure contracts and access to capital. The group also seeks to achieve a federally recognized “MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) distinction” for all minority-owned businesses.
Small Business Administration’s Business Development Program
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a federal agency that protects and promotes American small businesses. The SBA has many offices set up to help small businesses of all types receive fair access to resources. The Business Development Program is not specifically targeted at black owned businesses.
Instead, this program is intended to help all businesses owned by “socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.”
Businesses participating in the SBA program receive training, technical assistance, and mentorship opportunities.
The program is also designed to help participating businesses earn federal contracts. The SBA aims to ensure that at least 5% of all federal contracting funds go to small disadvantaged businesses annually, and this program is one of the ways the SBA works toward that goal.
U.S. Black Chambers
The U.S. Black Chambers is a non-profit with a very broad focus when it comes to supporting black owned businesses. The U.S. Black Chambers provides advocacy for black business owners. The group also helps black owned businesses access capital, provides training and education and strives to be an all-around voice of leadership in the black owned business community.
The U.S. Black Chambers offers an extensive list of services and programs to help grow and support black owned businesses across America. These programs include the SBA Community Navigator Program, Chase Advancing Black Entrepreneurs Program, and the Grow With Google Program. As these programs demonstrate, the USBC frequently partners with major organizations and corporations to provide greater access to resources for black owned businesses.
Grants For Black Owned Businesses
There are many grants available for black owned businesses, though they are not always prominently advertised. It can be challenging to find federal grants for black owned businesses specifically. However, if eligible, black-owned businesses can benefit from federal grants like SBIR and STTR grants.
Many targeted grants for black owned businesses will come from corporate sponsors. Some of these have already been discussed about the U.S. Black Chambers’ partnerships with Google and Chase.
Black owned businesses’ grants often provide funding and other business resources to help the business grow. There are many different types of grants, each with its eligibility and application processes. Here are a few examples of some grants available to black owned businesses.
Coalition to Back Black Businesses Grants
The Coalition to Back Black Businesses awards grants to black-owned businesses yearly. This group comprises several major partner corporations and organizations, and participating groups include American Express, Optimum, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, and the U.S. Black Chambers. The group aims to “provide immediate financial assistance and long-term support for America’s Black-owned small businesses.”
The CBBB’s grant program targets small black-owned businesses that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted. Applicants must also be located in an economically vulnerable community.
This program has committed to providing $14 million in grants over four years, awarding grants of $5 each to all eligible recipients. In addition, grant recipients will receive training and mentoring opportunities through the CBBB.
Power Forward Small Business Grant
The Power Forward Small Business Grant is one of several grants for black owned businesses sponsored by the NAACP. The Boston Celtics and VistaPrint launched this grant to empower black owned businesses across New England. Totaling $1 million, this grant program awards local small black owned businesses with grants up to $25,000 each.
While this program has regional restrictions, any black owned small business is eligible to apply. Grants are awarded on a rolling basis, so there is no deadline to apply for as long as the program remains active.
Fast Break For Small Business
We have already covered one grant sponsored partly by an NBA franchise. The Fast Break for Small Business grant is partially supported by the NBA, the WNBA, LegalZoom, and the Accion Opportunity Fund.
The Fast Break for Small Business Grant targets small businesses owned by underprivileged or minority individuals. Grant recipients receive $10,000 as well as access to free LegalZoom products to support their business. This grant is awarded annually, with the 2022 application period ending in May.
Learn more about this grant program by reading our Abridged Guide to Grants for Small Businesses [Link].
Visa She’s Next Program
The Visa She’s Next Grant Program targets black women owned businesses for financial support. This grant, sponsored by Visa and IFundWomen, offers $10,000 grants and a one-year coaching program to recipients. The grant is awarded to 60 black owned businesses across six cities across the U.S.
The She’s Next Program is a particular grant program. The reason for its strict qualifications is to help grow and empower women owned businesses in underserved American communities.
Grants Not Targeting Black Owned Businesses
Being a black owned business does not exclude you from applying for grants which do not necessarily target black-owned businesses. There are plenty of more general grants available which your business might qualify for. Federal grants like the USDA Rural Business Development Grants, which target small businesses operating in rural communities, can provide a big financial lift. Be sure to search around for other grant opportunities outside the sphere of those specifically targeting black owned businesses. You might find grants within your industry or region which can be just as helpful.
How to Help Black Owned Businesses: Other Options
In addition to grants and the resources listed above, there are other ways that black owned businesses can find help. Many organizations can support black owned businesses and provide other unrelated community services. Here are some additional resources and organizations that can support black owned businesses.
Local Chambers of Commerce
Any small business would be wise to look into involvement with its local chamber of commerce. The role of a local chamber of commerce is to strengthen relationships and access to resources among local small businesses. Your local chamber of commerce is a great way to strengthen the roots of your small business within the local community.
Some areas also have specific programs or incentives for black owned small businesses. For instance, New York City and Upstate New York have their dedicated Black Chambers of Commerce. Black small business owners can benefit significantly from joining their local Chambers of Commerce programs in any situation.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
The NAACP has much more on its agenda than strictly supporting black owned businesses. However, black owned businesses can find support through the NAACP in several ways. One of the NAACP’s primary initiatives is fighting for economic justice for all black workers and business owners. These initiatives and campaigns offer relief, both directly and indirectly, to black owned businesses.
As mentioned, the NAACP also partners with many corporations to issue grants to black owned businesses each year. The NAACP is among the most influential groups that can advocate and provide support for black owned businesses in America.
Small Business Administration
We have already covered the SBA’s Business Development Program. But there are many other opportunities for black small business owners to prosper using SBA resources. Visit the SBA’s page for Minority Owned Businesses to learn more about how they can provide support. Various SBA offices offer support programs, leadership training, and funding opportunities for black owned businesses.
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