Black business owner in shop
From the SBA to private agencies and websites, there are several entities available designed to help Black business owners find more success. — Getty Images/525037396

Over the past 30 years, the number of Black-owned businesses has grown steadily, with more than 2.5 million Black-owned companies operating today across the United States. However, there is still more work to be done to ensure Black-owned businesses get a fair shake, as Black Americans are currently underrepresented among U.S. entrepreneurs and Black-owned companies have been hit hard by COVID-19 disruptions.

One way to address opportunity gaps is to ensure Black business owners have access to guidance and funding opportunities. While there are many resources targeted at helping minority-owned businesses, not all of those specifically apply to Black business owners and founders.

Here are ten agencies, programs and organizations that can help Black business owners find more success.

Black Business Association

The Los Angeles-based Black Business Association (BBA), which was founded in 1970, advocates for policies to “improve access to contracting and procurement opportunities” in both the public and private sectors. This non-profit has offered networking, training and more to its members over the years.

Black Founders

The organization Black Founders, established in 2011, aims to “empower entrepreneurs and provide founders with access to advice, mentorship, and funding.” Black Founders differentiates itself from other organizations with its emphasis on technology entrepreneurship, as Black entrepreneurs have historically been underrepresented in the VC-backed tech startup landscape. During the past few years, Black Founders has also worked on community building by hosting networking events and hackathons.

Black-owned business directories

Several websites and organizations have started their own Black-owned business directories, including well-sourced sites such as Blax, Official Black Wall Street and Support Black Owned. These sites make it easy to search cities and states so consumers can find Black-owned auto services, beauty suppliers, fitness centers, restaurants, professional services and more. Additionally, there are locally focused directories that focus on specific U.S. cities as well, including for Detriot, Kansas City, New York and Seattle.

Black Owned Everything

Black Owned Everything takes a more modern approach to the idea of Black-owned business directories by curating photos and products from Black-owned businesses via a popular Instagram account. Businesses that want to be featured can register with the service and then photos from their Instagram may be promoted for free to a much larger audience. Zerina Akers, a prominent costume designer and the founder of the directory, told CFDA that thousands of brands have requested to be featured.

Coalition to Back Black Businesses

The recently launched Coalition to Back Black Businesses — spearheaded by American Express, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Business League, U.S. Black Chambers and Walker’s Legacy — aims to provide $10 million in grants, training and resources to Black-owned businesses through 2023. The Coalition will award $5,000 grants to more than 280 Black-owned businesses every fall between 2020 and 2023. Eligible businesses must employ between 3 and 20 people, be located in an “economically vulnerable community” and have been financially hurt by COVID-19 disruptions. On top of the initial grants, the Coalition will also offer opportunities for mentorship, disperse more funding to “promising grantees” and create an online hub of resources for Black-owned business owners.

Check out this episode of CO— Blueprint to learn how and why it makes sense to create a more diverse and inclusive business model.

The U.S. Black Chambers (USBC) acts as an umbrella organization that works to support more than 130 African American chambers of commerce and business organizations in the U.S.

Minority Business Development Agency

The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, has played an important role for years in helping Black-owned businesses by providing guidance on how to get funding, compete for contracts and make products export-ready. MBDA Business Centers are located around the country in cities with large numbers of minority-owned businesses.

National Minority Supplier Development Council

The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), the most important certification organization for minority-owned businesses, helps connect Black-owned businesses with more opportunities and partnerships. The NMSDC assists its more than 12,000 certified minority-owned businesses by helping match them with large corporations that wish to increase supplier diversity.

National Urban League

The National Urban League, a civil rights and urban advocacy organization that was founded in 1910, has 90 affiliates serving 300 communities across the country. The organization offers a variety of services to help those who need a hand, including those focused on helping minority entrepreneurs who run their businesses as sole proprietors. National Urban League’s Entrepreneurship Centers are located in 12 cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. The organization said these centers provided “13,600 hours of counseling and 25,617 hours of training” to entrepreneurs in 2018.

Small Business Administration 8(a) Business Development

The SBA’s 8(a) program was created to “provide a level playing field for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged” people. According to the program’s guidelines, any business that is 51% or more Black-owned has the potential to compete for lucrative set-aside government contracts, receive help at navigating federal contracts and get training. To take part in the program, businesses must first get certified by the SBA.

U.S. Black Chambers

The U.S. Black Chambers (USBC) acts as an umbrella organization that works to support more than 130 African American chambers of commerce and business organizations in the U.S. Local African American chambers promote and advocate for Black-owned businesses, while the USBC works at a national level to highlight Black-owned companies with a business directory, education webinars, and informative original content like podcasts.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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Published July 28, 2020