Why aren’t Black owned businesses prospering at a higher and faster rate?
When I was younger I went into an Black owned store down the street from my south side Chicago home. It was off of 71st street and was really easy to miss, it was one of those “hole in a wall” type of places. My aunt took me because she wanted to me to get used to the idea of investing in and shopping from Black people, instead of giving all my hard earned money to white people who get rich off my dimes. At the time I was only like thirteen years old, so I was walking around with a nice little ten dollar bill in my pocket but I thought I had enough money to last for a couple days. So, we go into the store and it’s really nice. They had mini elephant figurines, African themed tapestries, coconut oil, black African soap, and a bunch of other merchandise that I didn’t appreciate back then, but do now. They had the incense burning with some old school hip hop playing, it was lit. After browsing through the collections I decide to buy this shirt that has a picture of an elephant on it. I’m thinking the shirt was going to cost like seven to ten dollars, but turned out the owners wanted thirty-three dollars for it.
I was baffled. I couldn’t understand why a cotton t-shirt was thirty-three dollars, not including tax. I ended up not buying it and finding a different elephant shirt at the mall for twelve dollars, it wasn’t as intricate but it was pretty and did the job. The shop with the over priced t-shirt closed down not even a year later.
Many Black owned businesses fail in their first twelve to eighteen months, and that’s because of insufficient funds. These business women and men start their stores or companies with money that doesn’t keep them running long enough for them to establish a certain amount of fellowship or customers. And speaking from my experience, these people open their shops, realize they aren’t bringing in the income they thought they would be bringing in, so they crank up their prices so that when people do come in to shop, the merchandise is too expensive or over priced. Ultimately they’ll have to shut down, because who’s going to buy over priced cotton T-shirts? No one.
Black people would love to spend their hard earned money representing other Black people. We’d love to invest in Black owned businesses and have them turned into big corporations then be opened up all over the world. We can’t do that if these men and women keep opening shops with insufficient funds, closed minds and no experience. Black business owners shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help from the Black community, they should let their businesses be known and broaden their horizons. On twitter there are young women not much older than my eighteen years that run weave corporations out of their homes. Older men and women think that in order to have a business they need to set up shop somewhere so people can come in and out, when in reality that internet and times have changed. They could easily run a business from their living room and earn thousands of dollars.
Times have changed in the business world but many African Americans are still very conservative and afraid of the possibly of change. Once we get over that fear of things not going right and step away from old beliefs, the black community can use the business world to let our voices be heard.