America is known around the world as the ‘land of opportunity.’ However, historically, minority populations have faced many obstacles in realizing this promised opportunity. While minority populations in the United States have come a long way toward achieving true equality across all aspects of life, obstacles still remain.
Americans from certain ethnic or national backgrounds often struggle to achieve the dream of owning their own businesses. Many entrepreneurs encounter challenges along the way; but, minority-owned businesses statistically have had a more difficult path to success. Minority business owners have been disproportionately hurt by a lack of access to the capital they need to get started or expand.
This is critical: these businesses play an important role in closing the racial wealth gap that exists in this country. If these underrepresented groups find themselves shut out of the game before they have a chance to compete, they are denied the opportunity to live the American dream. Fortunately, there are many steps at the local level that consumers, business owners, and municipalities can take to help support minority-owned businesses.
What you can do to help support minority-owned businesses
Perhaps the most important thing individuals can do is to patronize these establishments whenever possible. It can be easy to fall into a routine of shopping at big-box stores or chain retailers, but seeking out smaller enterprises owned by minorities can provide a much-needed boost to the local economy.
Using social media to get the word out about minority-owned companies is another important step. Like most small businesses, they often have a very difficult time reaching their potential customers because they don’t have the marketing or advertising budgets to do so in an effective manner.
If you’re a business owner yourself, consider taking proactive steps toward working with a larger number of minority-owned vendors or suppliers. Find out if there’s a local group in your community that promotes them and make an effort to work with these vendors on a regular basis. You also might want to consider mentoring an entrepreneur in your industry who may be trying to get his or her foot in the door.
What municipalities can do
Communities act in their best interests when they support minority-owned businesses. These businesses are a major source of job growth and are much more likely to reinvest locally than a large chain.
Civic leaders can help promote these business owners by connecting them with financial institutions and public agencies that can assist them. They also can establish educational opportunities that give business owners the knowledge they need to hit the ground running.
America strives to be a place where anyone can become successful with hard work and determination. The experiences of minority entrepreneurs show us that there’s still a lot of progress that needs to be made — but that it is possible to get there. For more information about why these businesses are so vital to the overall success of our economy and ways you can help support them, see the accompanying resource.
Infographic created by Clover Network, a point of sale systems provider