According to the Census Reporter, metro Detroit’s population is 22% Black, yet only 2.7% of businesses in the metro area are Black-owned. The population-to-business ownership demographic ratio significantly improves when looking at Detroit, whose population is nearly 80% Black and business ownership is 80% Black. Despite this, Detroit’s small and medium-sized Black-owned businesses are still struggling to access equitable economic opportunities to open or scale their businesses, like accessing bank funding and procurement contracts.
Statistics like these and personal experiences are what inspired Black entrepreneurs Frederick E. Jordan and John William Templeton to create National Black Business Month in August 2004.
How National Black Business Month Started
Jordan, engineer and owner of F.E. Jordan Associates Inc., found it difficult to access capital when he opened his engineering and construction management company in 1969. Although Jordan ultimately triumphed and was able to secure financing, many Black entrepreneurs continue to experience similar delays or a complete lack of success in finding funding.
To help bring awareness to this issue and highlight the millions of Black-owned businesses in the U.S., Jordan teamed up with Templeton, the first Black U.S. business editor and current president and executive editor of scholarly publishing company eAccess Corp., to create National Black Business Month. According to Templeton, their ultimate goal is for the number of Black businesses to grow to 10% of the U.S.’s gross domestic product (GDP).
“We are moving in the right direction,” Templeton said in an interview with News Channel 8. “Two years ago, we were at 2%, and now we are at four. African Americans make up 14% of the population; if we could reach 10% of GDP, the economic impact would be substantial.”
The Nation’s Initiatives to Get to 10% GDP
Since National Black Business Month began, amplifying Black-owned businesses has gone beyond just the month of August. Many organizations have created advancement opportunities through mentorship, financial resources, and more, including:
- UPS Ignite program
- Detroit Means Business’ $9 million initiative
- Amazon’s Black Founders Build with Alexa program
- Black Leaders Detroit’s Detroit Drip competition
- The Detroit Ebiara Fund
- Michigan Central’s Neighborhood Detroit Business Fund
Consumers also celebrate and support Black-owned businesses by sharing their favorite or recently found ones on social media. For example, the popular hashtags #BuyBlack and #BlackOwnedBusiness have more than 3 million and 17 million uses on Instagram alone. Further, apps and websites like Miirya and WeBuyBlack, make to easier as ever to shop Black as well.
The Chamber’s Ongoing Initiatives
The Detroit Regional Chamber also takes the initiative to highlight and provide growth resources and opportunities to Black-owned businesses in Southeast Michigan. In 2020, it created the Racial Justice and Economic Equity initiative to provide data-based research and resources, workshops, town halls, podcasts, and events. And in 2021, it launched the Black- and Diverse-Owned Business Series to provide small businesses with additional regional resources, with a particular focus on access to bank financing, small business funding, and procurement opportunities.
The Chamber’s efforts to amplify and help diverse-owned businesses grow are ongoing. Its latest efforts include collecting more information about its member ownership diversity. This information will help the Chamber tailor its programs and communications to respond to the needs of its members, as well as better promote them – during National Black Business Month and beyond.
If you are looking for Black-owned businesses to support in Southeast Michigan, here is a non-exhaustive list of Chamber members. And if you are a minority-owned Chamber member who has not yet reported your status, please complete this form.