Note: This article was originally published on the official Office of Advocacy SBA website on March 22, 2023. You can read the original article here.
Currently, Black business owners own over three million businesses and employ almost 1.2 million people. Despite some setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear that Black small businesses continue to grow. The contributions Black Americans have made throughout our country’s history are endless, and I see this in the communities throughout Region 6.
During Black History Month, I attended an inaugural summit in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to share resources to small business owners. The event included multiple partners such as the Small Business Administration, Minority Business Development Agency, New Mexico Economic Development Department, New Mexico Office of African American Affairs, and more.
Over 150 small businesses and stakeholders attended each day, most of them Black or Afro-Latino. I used the opportunity to share the Office of Advocacy’s work, discuss regulations, and educate those in attendance. Only 3.4% of Black Americans reside in New Mexico, and to have an inaugural conference with such a large attendance speaks volumes to the eagerness to flourish, grow, and create more opportunities within their local community.
Meanwhile, most of Louisiana celebrates Mardi Gras in February. During this same time, the Office of Advocacy and the SBA Louisiana District Office honored the small business owners and staff that drive the economies of local communities of color. Collectively, our offices had the opportunity to meet with Jerel Butler, owner of Millennial Financial Solutions and Krave Lounge; Estralita Soniat, owner of Estralita’s Cafe & Carryout; Dr. Donisha Dunn, owner of Integrated Care and Consulting, LLC; Azunna Maidoh, PharmD, owner of Magnolia Drugs; and Thrissa Every, owner of Every Way Insurance. We not only had the opportunity to introduce the business owners to Advocacy and share SBA resources, but we also had the opportunity to hear their stories of resiliency during tumultuous times.
Unfortunately, for many entrepreneurs, those hard times have also been connected to other obstacles, such as racism and systemic barriers to business entry and production. These barriers are particularly felt throughout the Deep South, including Region 6. However, the most resilient businesses were able to pivot and innovate when faced with adversity. This same resiliency is the common thread for lasting Black businesses and communities.
I see a promising future and a pathway to endless opportunity and success in Region 6. Along with the rest of the Office of Advocacy, I am happy to recognize and support Black business contributions, not only to their local communities but to our country’s economy.