The road to success for small businesses is tough. For minority-owned small businesses, the struggle can be made even harder through systemic challenges inherent in Black communities. To help remedy these challenges, Pennsylvanians Marcia Perry Dix and David Dix recently founded the PA Chamber for Black Owned Business, a group to provide organizational support to minority-owned small businesses across the state.
Realizing the massive constraints of the recent health crisis and a lack of institutional support, the couple — both Black small business owners — saw the need for a statewide organization to address the issue. The chamber held a soft launch on June 22 and is planning an official start this fall.
Through a partnership with the PA Chamber of Business and Industry, this new organization will provide Black businesses with professional opportunities and capital. The couple also said their organization will offer entrepreneur education and training. They are working with the African American Chamber of Western Pennsylvania, Central Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, to collaborate on advocacy for statewide issues.
Research proves that the ongoing health crisis has disproportionately impacted Black-owned small businesses, compared to their white counterparts. An H&R Block survey of nearly 3,000 small businesses found that 53% of Black business owners saw their revenue drop by half, compared to 37% of white owners, since the health crisis started in spring 2020. Moreover, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that small business ownership in the U.S. dropped 22% overall between February 2020 and April 2020, but Black ownership dropped 41%.
Robert F. Smith’s Advocacy To Save Black-Owned Small Business
Black-owned businesses have been twice as likely to close during the health crisis, yet they have also received less aid from the federal government. The 10 poorest congressional districts received $13.3 billion less in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans than the 10 wealthiest districts. The poorest districts were disproportionately Black, contributing to the uneven outcomes.
In the summer of 2020, philanthropist Robert F. Smith joined this fight to protect Black-owned small businesses, helping expand access to crucial PPP loans. Drawing on connections with Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike, Smith worked with Congress to ensure Black-owned small businesses were able to gain access to the same loans that white businesses received.
Beyond just securing additional aid, Smith helped ensure Black businesses could effectively navigate the PPP loan process. He encouraged Black celebrities such as actor Jamie Foxx and basketball legend Magic Johnson to film public service announcements from their homes during the shutdown, encouraging Black business owners to apply.
Efforts like these coincide with the impactful work of the new PA Chamber for Black Owned Business, helping close the gap and pave the path for Black-owned small businesses across the U.S.
Find out more about Smith’s work to expand PPP loans to minority-owned small businesses.