The Covid-19 pandemic has had a disproportionately devastating impact on minority and women-owned entrepreneurs in general, and the implications for Black-owned business owners have been even more devastating. In 2020 Black business ownership rates dropped over 40%, the largest of any racial group. The pandemic has exposed and compounded long-standing inequalities that make it harder for Black-owned businesses to endure the crisis and access recovery resources.
These inequalities are not new. Before the pandemic, Black-owned companies faced systemic barriers, including lack of access to credit or investment capital as the direct result of “red-lining,” the discriminatory, unethical, and formerly legal practice of systematic denial of providing financial and other services, to residents of Black neighborhoods. More recently, the negative impact of predatory lending aimed at racially segregated minority neighborhoods led to mass foreclosures that fueled the U.S. housing crisis in 2008, according to a new study published in the American Sociological Review. This recession had a catastrophic effect on homeownership within the Black Community, a crucial factor in creating and transferring intergenerational wealth.
The cumulative impact of these historical inequalities is devastating, and even more so when multiplied by the history of wanton destruction of vibrant Black cities, townships, and districts such as:
- Greenwood, Oklahoma, also known as “Black Wall Street,” was destroyed by white rioters in 1921;
- Rosewood. Florida, where on New Year’s Day 1923, white residents of nearby Sumner, Florida, claimed that a Black man from Rosewood, Florida, had beaten a white woman, which sparked race riots that wiped out a then prosperous town; and
- Bruce’s Beach, a resort in the city of Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles County, California, that was owned by and operated for African Americans, which the city acquired via eminent domain proceedings in the 1920s and closed down and only recently returned to the descendants of Charles and Willa Bruce.
To help our small businesses recover, the Los Angeles Urban League is in partnership with the National Urban League (NUL) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Together, we will engage, and support underserved small businesses, including micro and rural businesses, emphasizing those owned by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
This program called the Community Navigator Program (CNP) focuses on helping underserved small businesses recover from the effects of COVID-19. Recovery services will include financial assistance, access to capital, business-to-business networking, contracting and procurement assistance, marketing, operations, business development, and industry-specific training.
The CNP will execute a “Hub” and “Spoke” service delivery model with the National Urban League as the “Hub” and the Affiliates as “Spokes.” Urban League Affiliates will act as Spokes delivering technical assistance and providing resources to businesses. There are 25 Spokes organized into five regions with one Lead Spoke per Region. The Los Angeles Urban League Entrepreneurship Center is the Lead Spoke for the Western Region. The LAUL will work with four other Spokes, including Las Vegas Urban League, Greater Phoenix Urban League, Urban League of San Diego County, and Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. Urban League affiliates across the nation who are Spokes in the program will assist entrepreneurs in recovering from the effects of the pandemic and provide information and tools to stabilize and grow their businesses.
This partnership represents an excellent opportunity to expand and accelerate our economic development efforts in Southern California and beyond. With SBA support for the next two years, the Los Angeles Urban League will increase our outreach and recruitment efforts to enroll businesses impacted by the pandemic and help them get back on their feet.
To kick off this new program, we are launching a new “Business Readiness” webinar series on February 2, 2022, from 5 pm – 7 pm. With eight classes over nine weeks, the series will cover a wide range of topics designed to get your business ready for recovery and growth through grants, certifications, government contracts, marketing, compliance, and more. Visit laul.org/sba to register for free.
The Los Angeles Urban League will continue to do whatever is necessary to help the brothers and sisters in our underserved communities achieve their highest true social parity, economic self-reliance, power, and civil rights.
Together we will rise.