Small Business

Black Owned Businesses Take the Hardest Hit

While small businesses across the United States have taken a major hit due to the novel
COVID-19 coronavirus, black-owned businesses have suffered the most.
Fia Thomas, owner of Fia’s Fabulous Finds knew she had to pivot for the sake of her business
once the pandemic hit.

“Let me be honest. I don’t know if I am going to last until January. I am just taking it one day at
a time,” said Thomas.

Fia’s Fabulous Finds, located in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, DC, is a
consignment shop that has been in business for almost a decade.
The shop was more than just a place to buy clothes, Fia’s Fabulous Finds was a haven for local
artist showcases, stylist collaboration, and small discussions about sustainable living which were
free to the public.

By March, when Brick and Mortars in the district were forced to close, Fia began selling her
products through social media platforms.

As if the beginning of the global pandemic did not hit businesses hard enough, the months
following would leave black-owned businesses to handle more pandemics than one.

After the death of George Floyd shook the nation and initiated conversations about the racial
oppression that persists in this country, protests began to trend; and so did an outpour of
donations to local organizations, as well as a rise in support of black-owned businesses.
“I think people are more sensitive about uplifting the small black-business than ever before. I
have felt the community come together, some of these people don’t even need these clothes,”
said Thomas.

As the nation experiences a highly publicized movement of civil unrest, black-owned businesses
have seen a rise in support over the last few months leaving many owners to figure out how to
sustain their business once #shopblackowned stops trending.

Although one would assume that the increase in support of black-owned business will maintain
through the pandemic, the numbers speak otherwise.

41% of Black-owned businesses – approximately 440,000 – have shut down due to COVID-19
compared to just 17% of white-owned businesses, according to the National Bureau of Economic
research.

Ida Polite, owner of the women’s clothing store, Ida’s Idea, who has stood two blocks away
from the White House for more than 30 years, believes that in order for black-owned businesses
to remain sustainable, they need financial support.

“A lot of us start out under capitalized. Banks have not respected the fact that we have
sustainable businesses. We have proven ourselves, and it’s still very difficult to get a loan.”
Coverage gaps in the Paycheck Protection Program left many Black-owned businesses out of
relief during the pandemic.

Loans only reached about 20% of black owned businesses, according to the Federal Reserve
Bank of New York.

Many of these issues are due to debt, weaker bank relationships, and funding gaps, many of
which existed before the coronavirus pandemic.

As the nation is less than 20 days away from the election, black owners hope they’ll be
recognized by the next administration.

“When all businesses small and large come together in unity, there is nothing negative that can
come out of supporting everyone,” said Thomas.

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