The month of August is Black Business month—a dedicated reminder to tap into the financial fortitude our community While we continue to build consciousness and awareness about the bevy of Black businesses at our disposal, resources such as ByBlack can assist in these efforts.
Powered by US Black Chambers (USBC), ByBlack is an established platform that gives foundational assistance to businesses led by Black entrepreneurs. Through USBC’s official database these enterprises are verifiably certified as being Black-owned. Backed by immense support by the likes of Issa Rae, ByBlack not only maintains an extensive catalogue of verifiably Black-owned businesses but, in tandem with a variety of other initiatives, encourages those within and external to our community to buy Black.
Ron Busby Sr., President and CEO of US Black Chambers, chatted with EBONY about the importance of Black Business Month, the ByBlack platform and the significance of “for us, by us.”
EBONY: What inspired the creation of the ByBlack platform?
Ron Busby Sr: After all the racial and social injustice, 2020 proved to us that many people want to buy Black. In our local communities, we’ve all experienced a degree of difficulty trying to find a Black nail salon, printing company, plumber, dog groomer, event coordinator, contractor or electrician. Our market research also revealed that 73% of corporations and governments we partnered with had issues diversifying their supply chains with Black firms. No matter the will or budget to “buy Black,” procurement officers struggle to find qualified Black enterprises to meet their needs.
At ByBlack, our mission is to create meaningful economic opportunities for Black people through the Black businesses in our communities. Our response to the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, and the social unrest that followed, was to support Black-owned businesses as part of the Black Lives Matter movement. Corporate or government leaders who say, “We’d love to increase our spending with Black-owned businesses, but we just don’t know who to reach out to,” we dispense with the excuse “I can’t find a Black business.” This solution has the resources necessary to keep these businesses, and their owners’ dreams, alive.
ByBlack is a digital solution and people-centric platform focused on connecting Black businesses to capital, customers and community. It is our goal to not only refine what it means to be Black in business, but influence and grow supplier diversity spend, strengthen supply chains and increase contract opportunities specifically for Black enterprises.
How does certifying Black businesses through USBC help to broaden their visibility and reach?
As you may know, in the world of government and corporate procurement, Black businesses are considered “minority-owned.”.This is a common umbrella term that describes a broad population of racial and identity-based groups like women, Native American, Asian/Pacific Islanders, Latinos, veterans, and the LGBTQIA+ community—all of which have nationally recognized certification programs. In a conversation of equality and equity, we believe it is important that we not sacrifice specificity at the expense of inclusivity. Until we created ByBlack’s certification, there was no such program for Black businesses.
So enter ByBlack. Our accreditation grants companies that hold the ByBlack certification access to participate in exclusive contracting, mentorship and training opportunities funded by USBC corporate partners and sponsors, and with the private and public sector. This initiative is the first of its kind focused solely on certification for Black-owned businesses.
Why is Black Business Month so significant and why is it important to buy Black in general?
The month of August is National Black Business Month. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent survey of business owners, there are 2.6 million Black-owned businesses in this country. Founders John William Templeton and Frederick E. Jordan Sr. started the national holiday back in 2004 “to reach venture capitalists, government officials and community leaders to focus on a more hospitable environment for Black firms to grow and build sustainability.”
Black businesses are critical to the lifeline of our nation’s economy. Our businesses line nearly every Main Street economy, serving millions of Americans and beyond from every walk of life. The impact of these businesses creates economic opportunities, invests in communities, and bolsters possibilities. The commemoration of Black Business Month during August plays a significant role in spotlighting Black-owned firms while celebrating their critical position.
Since 2004, the purpose of celebrating Black Business Month is to support Black-owned organizations in promoting greater economic freedom for Black entrepreneurs and their growing businesses. USBC commemorates this month in its importance to our mission and call to action: “To make a great America, there must be a great Black America. To have a great Black America, you must have great Black businesses. And in order to have great Black businesses, you must have great Black Chambers.”
EBONY’s mission is ultimately dedicated to “moving Black forward.” How is USBC moved Black forward through its various initiatives such as ByBlack?
At the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., we are known as the National Voice of Black Businesses representing a network of 140 Black Chambers of Commerce across the nation. We are founded on our 5 pillars: Advocacy, Access to Capital, Entrepreneurial Training, Contacting and Chamber Development. We create resources and initiatives like ByBlack to support both Black Chambers and businesses to help move the Black economic agenda forward.
Our other initiatives include U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Community Navigator Pilot Program and Greenwood Women’s Business Center, Advancing Black Entrepreneurs Workshops presented by Chase for Business, Grow with Google Digital Training, Wells Fargo Open for Business technical assistance program and a bevy of business education and development workshops hosted with strategic partners and government agencies.