Last year Gramblinites had the pleasure of listening to Margarita Anderson, founder and CEO of the Empowerment Experiment.
The Empowerment Experiment was a yearlong trial that Anderson and her family went through to honor and stimulate the Black economy.
The Andersons partnered with Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management’s Levy Entrepreneurship Center for the study. The family’s experiences shed light on the need to support Black business and the difficulties faced by Black consumers when patronizing Black businesses.
In her book Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy, she detailed tips for Black entrepreneurs that help clear the smoke between business and consumer relations.
“She educated us on Black-owned businesses that I never knew about,” said Tundra Turner of the Student Counseling Center. “I enjoyed that.”
As an aspiring entrepreneur, I could not help but to recognize the gravity of her study. I concluded, if Black businesses were better supported by their communities, more African Americans would be interested in working for themselves.
According to the 2007 census, African Americans make up more than 13 percent of the U.S. population, but only own 7 percent of the businesses.
So many African Americans choose and/or are forced to work for someone else for the majority of their lives. Some love their bosses so much, they don’t feel a need to work for themselves. Others gloat, about how well of a job they do for their company, furthering someone else’s profit.
Why not put that effort and energy into a your own aspirations? In the end, it will be more rewarding for you and a model for the youth to look up to.
“Reward follows risk,” said Marvin Davis, owner of Reali-Tees in The Village. His advice to aspiring entreupreuers: “Don’t give up, and ask questions. Know your worth. The only time its too late to try something new is when your in the ground.”
Business ownership is a dream for many, but often people don’t realize the challenges that come along with it. Mortgage payments, utility bills and supply expenses are just a few costs business owners face. Things to keep in mind, the next time you think about asking for the “hook-up.”
One challenge I’ve faced personally while going into business for myself is stereotypes. As a licensed cosmetologist and nail technician, my work is constantly compared to Asian nail technicians. The same goes for Black men and women who venture off into various fields.
A way to get past challenges in business ownership is to have “… Good customer service. Give people what they want at a reasonable price,” said Ann Coleman, owner of ADT Quick Stop.
Why are African Americans afraid to try out Black-owned businesses? Familiarity. But, without giving local Black businesses a shot, we’re left with numerous unsung quality businesses that are forced to close their doors.
There are too many businesses that need support and too many underserved communities that need economic empowerment.
I’m not telling anyone to only buy Black as the Andersons’ chose to do, but I do urge African Americans to support one another in everyday life as well as in consumerism.
Supporting Black businesses can change the American economy.
If you’re interested in venturing off into your own business journey, don’t be afraid. “Work hard, have patience and passion,” advised Priscilla Butler, owner of Heavenly Hair Beauty Salon. “In order to be successful, keep God first and let him guide.”
Regina Love is a senior mass communication major from Kansas City, Mo.