The government’s Paycheck Protection Program was supposed to be the savior of small businesses. However, the initial $350 billion allotment quickly ran out but it certainly didn’t go to Black owned businesses. In fact, more than 200 public companies applied for at least $860 million from the program before small business owners had a chance to blink. For Black owned companies, the issues were plentiful: many couldn’t apply, many didn’t qualify and many more simply couldn’t navigate the endless red tape. All of this speaks to the urgency of We Buy Black and SheaMoisture’s commitment to provide relief to our companies.
This is a classic case of the rich getting richer. Billions were handed out to big corporations and restaurant chains, as Black entrepreneurs continue going under. “Struggling small businesses in the nation’s hardest-hit regions have not received a dime from the Paycheck Protection Program, intended for businesses with fewer than 500 employees, while hundreds of millions of dollars have gone to corporations that employ thousands, like Ruth’s Hospitality Group and Potbelly Corporation,” National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said. The country in general is outraged about the snuff to small businesses but the impacts just aren’t the same, for the Black community.
Black entrepreneurs are operating without lines of credit, typically funding their businesses out of their own pockets. This is clear, based on the response We Buy Black received during the application period for the Black Business Relief Fund: 3,588 Black businesses applied, each of them with a compelling story. Many stories were inspiring and others were devastating. All of them had one thing in common: Black business owners are desperately in need of relief and the government has failed them, miserably. In this moment, when the future of Black business in America is unclear, urgency is needed. Black businesses is in danger. We may lose an entire generation of Black entrepreneurs, if something urgent isn’t done now.
Tomorrow We Buy Black and SheaMoisture will announce the 20 awardees of the Black Business Relief Fund. $100,000 of grants will go out and that represents a mere speck, compared to the billions that the federal government fumbled, enriching the rich. Even so, that $100,000 represents a bright hope for Black entrepreneurs and a shift in paradigm: no longer will we look to the outside for relief, we’ll handle it ourselves.