Top 4 Challenges Faced by Black Businesses

16 Aug 2020 1:46 PM | Nerissa Allen (Administrator)

TOP 4 CHALLENGES FACED BY BLACK BUSINESSES

  • 1.     ACCESS TO OTHER ENTREPRENEURS

An important component for the growth and success of a small business is the ability to foster relationships and access networks. Access to peers for mentorship, guidance, and support are crucial in the growth of a new business. Many small business owners start off by turning to friends or family in their immediate circle for this type of support. However, entrepreneurship in the black community is not as prevalent as we would like, and many of us do not have those immediate contacts to lean on. We look to the online community, since, in recent times we are seeing more and more peer to peer meeting groups created for this type of collaboration. Although it is not as personal as being able to have in-depth discussions and share personal stories, it for many is a viable alternative. The next option to consider are paid memberships in organizations that offer mentorship and networking. Typically, these are more structured than the cost free online communities, however, may not be a feasible option for entrepreneurs just starting out and struggling to maintain cash flow.

Tackling the challenge: The Black Business Association of BC brings together business professionals from various backgrounds. We foster forums that cater to various personality types, where members can take center stage during think tanks to get feedback on business issues; or sit back and take a more birds eye view. Our online platform supports individual peer to peer networking or group networking.

  • 2.     ACCESS TO FUNDING AND RESOURCES

Gaining the capital start and maintain the operations of your business is key. Loans from banks are difficult for any entrepreneur to obtain regardless of race, so many resort to their own savings or borrowing from friends and family. However, this is where the wealth gap plays an important factor. The black community have only in recent times been able to migrate to Canada. In Statistics Canada’s recent release “Changes in the socioeconomic situation of Canada’s Black Population, 2001 to 2016”; it was referenced that “During the 1960’s, there was a large-scale migration from the Caribbean after discriminatory immigration policies – based on national origin, racial group, or religion – were abolished in Canada”. Therefore, the opportunity and timeframe to begin intergenerational wealth building within the black community is much less than with other groups.

For many, wealth begins with real estate, this inherent home equity allows many small business owners to get their initial financing. However, in the black community the opportunity to tap into family financial support and home equity is not an option.  

Population in private households

1st generation

2nd generation

3rd generation

Black

675,475

419,845

103,225

Non-visible minority

2,938,750

3,977,605

19,869,125


According to Stats Canada 2016 census, the employment rate of the Black population aged 25-59 was lower than the rest of the population. Among this age group’s Black population in 2016, 78% of men and 71% of women were employed, compared to 83% and 76% respectively, among their counterparts in the rest of the population. While the employment rate of the Black population was lower than that of the rest of the population, the unemployment rate was higher. It was also found that the median annual wages for Black men are among the lowest.  In 2015, the median annual wages for Black men was $41,000, compared with nearly $56,000 for other men – a gap of almost $15,000. With a staggering $22,000 wage gap in 2015 between Black men born in Canada to immigrant parents (second generation) and other male workers.

According to Statistics Canada 2016 census (family income)

Median income

Average income

Black

26, 807

34, 813

Non-visible minority

35, 299

47, 938


As a result, you will find many black entrepreneurs start as sole proprietorships, one man shows. They usually are not able to pay themselves a salary. What results is ineligibility to qualify for support such as grants and/or loans to expand or sustain in emergency situations such as during Covid-19. Many black entrepreneurs did not qualify for the Canada Emergency Business Account.

Tackling the challenge: The current federal government has acknowledged systemic racism within our institutions and have committed to reviewing the current policies which would include financial lending. However, more immediately, the Black Business Association of BC has created Project Jumpstart specifically designed to support the start-up of new black owned businesses.  We want to jumpstart the economy and inject a fresh batch of entrepreneurs with new innovative ideas. Winners of this sponsorship would receive support for initial start-up registration fees, enrollment in our Leadership program with access to all of our complete blended learning platform. If you are interested in donating to this initiative please visit our website www.blackbusinessbc.ca

  • 3.     ACCESS TO EDUCATION AND TRAINING

According to Statistics Canada, nearly one-third of Black children have low-income status. In 2015, low-income status affected 27% of Black children and 14% of other children. One of the causes of the relatively elevated low-income rate among Black children is the level of lone parenthood observed in Black families. Studies have established that lone parenthood accounts for nearly half of the gap between the low-income rates among Black children compared with other children. In 2016, the percentage of women aged 25-59 who were lone parents in the Black population was 27.4% as compared to 10.6% for the rest of the population. This directly factors into the ability of Black youth to afford higher level education and training.

For those that have higher level education and training, Stats Canada has mentioned the location where the highest diploma was earned, and whether the diplomas and experience are recognized in Canada, and overqualification are some of the factors that can affect the economic situation of the Black population in Canada.

Tackling the challenge: At the Black Business Association of BC we have combined live webinars with self directed online courses for an intensive blended learning platform. We offer both soft skill training and business specific focused options to promote comprehensive leadership development. We offer access to the entire platform at a low annual fee to remove the financial barrier for entrepreneurs and individual seeking to build their leadership skills.

  • 4.     FIGHTING STEREOTYPES & MENTAL HEALTH

Systemic racism is a trending topic these days. However, it is not a new issue, black people have been dealing with systemic, blatant, and subtle micro-aggressions for a long time. There are many conversations to be had to delve into how to identify and address systemic racism. For this piece I will shine light on the more prevalent day to day micro-aggressions black people face in our communities often as a result of stereotypes. Whether its dealing with micro-aggressions from within our community, Example “Wow, we didn’t expect this, it’s really nice in here” or from outside our community, Example “Oh? You are the owner?? Or do you mean manger?”.  It is an incredibly stressful and mentally taxing experience.

The micro-aggressions that we are so used to dealing with often results in us becoming complacent in actively addressing it. We too often just sigh and let slide because it is too exhausting to fight it all the time. But it is a disservice to both parties to do so, as those on the receiving end are experiencing a trauma that will not be resolved, and those committing the aggression are not being alerted to the issue. This is a topic that is uncomfortable for many to tackle especially when it takes place within your workplace. However, it is one of the more important if not the most important to address because it deeply attacks the mental health of the black population.

Tackling the challenge: Fighting stereotypes and the healing that is needed within the black community will take time. It requires open and honest discussion and at time mediation by skilled communication professionals. We will be working with Cicely Blain Consulting in the upcoming months. Cicely Blain Consulting offers various service including facilitation. Facilitation is a powerful tool that allows organizations to complete complex and successful projects. With an external facilitator, employees can express their true creative selves and reach an end goal in record timing. Cicely Blain Consulting offers experienced facilitators who are able to manage conflict, solve complex problems and reach fast conclusions.  For more information please visit:  https://www.cicelyblainconsulting.com/

In conclusion, the Black business community is a resilient one and working hard to contribute equally to the economy of Canada. As we navigate through these challenging times of addressing systemic racism, we will undoubtedly work through the challenges faced by black business owners in a holistic way. There are many great organizations working hard with government to lobby for change, and to create forums and safe spaces to deal with mental health.

At the Black Business Association of BC our mission is to explore ways to address these challenges. We have put in place affordable low-cost options for persons in leadership positions, entrepreneurs and small business owners to advance their skill sets. Created sponsorships for the most marginalized groups to access our expansive learning network. Our online learning platform is robust, and we combine it with live webinars for a blended learning environment. In addition, we foster peer to peer networking and collaboration to support the business community. We have a saying “It takes a village to raise a child”, it will also take the village to heal the global community.


Comments

  • 15 Sep 2020 5:15 PM | Olwin
    Very well written and to the point. We also deal with the statement "you are well educated" with the unspoken "for a black person". We as Black people also need to come together more and support each other. BC is an especially difficult place for Black people to find each other and we need to institute forums that work in closing this handicap.
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