Black Business Month Celebrates Empowerment
By Dianne Anderson
Black businesses packed the house last week, turning out to celebrate Black Business Month with some legendary barbecue, but also seeking pointers from Attorney General Rob Bonta on how the state of California is working toward their economic empowerment.
Janice Chafin, immediate past president of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., Orange County Chapter, said a representative from the Attorney General’s office contacted their chapter mid-July to host a National Black Business Month luncheon.
She reached out to their sister partner Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Orange County Chapter to pull together countywide Black businesses and community leaders.
“Orange County has many impressive Black business owners and leaders who were very excited to be celebrated and recognized for their hard work and dedication to their passion and craft,” said Chafin, who also sits on the national board of NCBW, which has 62 chapters in 26 states and the District of Columbia.
“The event provided an opportunity to speak directly to the Attorney General, network with each other, and enjoy a delicious meal at Hambone’s [Smokehouse in] Huntington Beach,” she said. “We are grateful to have had the opportunity to host this luncheon and we will continue to engage the community regarding future events.”
“There are more than 11,000 Black-owned small businesses in California. From advancing public safety to fighting for civil rights – I’m proud to support you as you drive our economy forward,” said Attorney General Bonta on his Facebook page.
But Black businesses are not out of the woods yet, according to a study by the nonprofit Brookings Institute. The analysis, Black-owned Businesses in U.S. Cities, shows that many are still up against the economic crush this year and soaring inflation.
A confluence of factors impacted Black businesses through the pandemic. On one side, the findings show the pandemic disproportionately hurt preexisting Black firms, but it also jump-started new Black businesses.
New online microbusinesses saw the fastest growth among hardest hit groups with Black owners making up 26% of the increase, up 15 percent from pre-pandemic.
The Brookings Institute cites recent Census data that there are 3.12 million Black-owned businesses in the United States, generating $206 billion in annual revenue and supporting 3.56 million U.S. jobs.
“The use of personal stimulus checks for business creation and the failure of PPP funding to reach Black business owners are two sides of the same coin. Both demonstrate that Black business owners—like Black consumers in general—struggle to access traditional lines of credit and capital, which forces them to seek funding outside of these institutional structures,” the analysis states.
Dr. Gabriella Jones said the Attorney General touched on several areas that his office can assist with, including resources, and that he was able to open up discussions around some of the biggest challenges facing Black businesses in the county.
“In some areas they may have difficulty with in trying to sustain their business due to the number [African Americans] in the area. We’re kind of a low number, hovering around two percent. A couple of questions came up regarding funding and resources,” she said.
She said her organization’s partnership with the local chapter 100 Black Women of Orange County brought together many Black business owners, nonprofits, and representatives from sororities and fraternities.
“They had several different restaurant owners, people in finance, real estate, a good array of representation, hair salons, and construction companies. A lot of foundations were there,” said Dr. Jones, chairman of the Executive Board of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Orange County – Gamma Alpha Epsilon Zeta.
She said that just being together in the same room, and interacting with each other was a good networking experience. She said they plan to continue it every Black Business Month.
“I think we did cover ground because this was the first time we held an event of this nature that included the Attorney General,” she said. “It was very helpful and motivational.”
For more information on upcoming events, see firstname.lastname@example.org
For the local OC Chapter Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., email email@example.com