Businesses led by black and brown entrepreneurs produce over $400 billion dollars in annual revenue and actively employ, either directly or indirectly, more than 2.2 million people. They additionally contribute close to $49 billion in local, state and federal tax revenues.
When COVID hit, the pandemic impacted black and brown business communities the hardest. 53% of black business owners saw their revenue drop by half. Between February and April 2020, black entrepreneurs closed their doors at more than twice the rate of their white counterparts, declining by 41% compared to 17%. In January 2021, more than half of black and hispanic business owners said that the pandemic was ‘catastrophic’ or ‘very bad,’ and 23% of black-owned businesses did not expect to make it to the end of 2021.
These figures are not unique to COVID. Before COVID, black-owned businesses were less successful than white-owned businesses due to the role of families, inheritances, and human capital.
Calvin Coolidge is credited with saying, “The business of America is business.” What President Coolidge recognized almost one hundred years ago is still true today: business is the mechanism by which individuals and communities are able to enhance their quality of life. Beyond keeping my team employed and providing immediate financial relief to the small social enterprises we support, what could I do to support American businesses in underserved communities? I lead a nonprofit organization called The Global Good Fund that exists to identify high potential entrepreneurs and accelerate their leadership to demonstrate outsized social impact. I am grateful that my board and colleagues saw the opportunity to be an ally to the communities hit hardest by the pandemic.
At the beginning of 2021, Goodwill Industries of East Texas was the recipient of a 3-year $300,000 grant from Microsoft Philanthropies to Accelerate Job Training and Digital Skills in the black community. As a result of these funds, Goodwill Industries partnered with The Global Good Fund and launched “GoodBiz,” a 6-month entrepreneurial business leadership program for new and budding entrepreneurs. The program consists of Global Good Fund’s proprietary 360 MIRROR assessment, followed by group coaching, and concluding with mentoring from Global Good Fund alumni, with business skills workshops conducted throughout the program. The outcomes of the GoodBiz program are to advance the participants’ individual leadership capacities, increase their abilities to manage and grow their businesses more effectively, and develop core business competencies and leadership practices while gaining a community of peers who serve as a continuous support system through their entrepreneurial journeys. Participants received $1,000 at the conclusion of the program.
The program’s success resulted from diverse individuals and organizations working together toward a common good. A successful entrepreneur from Burundi, Ange Muyubira, mentored entrepreneurs from the United States. A black, woman, Veteran entrepreneur navigating her own entrepreneurial journey, Margo Jordan, stepped up to mentor. Numerous black, brown and women coaches and presenters boosted these start-up companies, including black board member, Kim Lewis, of The Global Good Fund, a white led organization, invited us to partner with Goodwill Industries of East Texas and Microsoft to deliver this program.
Last month, we celebrated graduation for the entrepreneurs. There were 11 black and brown women and one black man who graduated from the program – that’s 12 new small businesses to help boost our economy and create new jobs. Now the program is being replicated to create scale and a ripple effect of positive change. I am particularly moved by WHY each person started their company – to honor a grandmother, to create a business that would one day employ an autistic son, faith in the Lord. These entrepreneurs, driven by these reasons, are unlikely to give up. And yet only less than one percent of black and brown entrepreneurs in the United States receive venture capital. We are simultaneously tackling that challenge through our work at Global Impact Fund II. Four-trillion-dollars of value for the United States economy will be unlocked when we address these opportunities. Join us. It is time for each of us to step up, support the common good, and be responsible stewards of the resources entrusted to us, using our influence to shape a brighter, healthier, more economically empowered tomorrow.