Reflecting On Black Business Month: Black Businesses Have Boundless Potential To Contribute To Our Region’s Wealth and Prosperity
By Dorian DeBarr, President, Decide DeKalb Development Authority
As the President of the Decide DeKalb Development Authority, I am privileged to witness the dynamic contributions of entrepreneurs who help drive the county’s economic growth and innovation. As we celebrate Black Business Month, it’s imperative to recognize and amplify the significance of supporting Black-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs. These vibrant ventures not only enrich our economy but also foster diversity, equity, and inclusion, making our communities stronger and more resilient.
Black small businesses have historically faced unique challenges rooted in systemic inequalities. Despite these obstacles, they have continually demonstrated their entrepreneurial spirit. Supporting Black-owned businesses is not an act of charity; it’s an investment in the vitality of our economy and the promotion of a more equitable society.
According to an analysis done by Brookings in 2022, in metro Atlanta there are 7,539 Black businesses, accounting for 7 percent of employer businesses. If Black businesses accounted for 36.3% of employer firms (equivalent to the Black population in the region), there would be 56,918 more Black businesses.
Imagine the wealth and prosperity that would spread. More quality jobs and more Black ownership would result in a stronger and more competitive city. In fact, a National Black Chamber of Commerce report in 2020 showed that even though Black Americans have faced significant barriers to starting their own businesses, from discrimination and lack of access to capital, Black-owned businesses in the U.S. generated more than $150 billion in revenue and employed more than 2 million Americans.
Decide DeKalb has embraced Black Business Month with programmatic efforts as well as spotlighting those trailblazers and innovators in the county. Our ‘Generations of Success’ panel discussion earlier this month featured some of DeKalb’s most courageous and driven small-business owners. Not only did our participants offer unique business perspectives and creative solutions to the challenges they face, but they also confirmed what we all know to be true for those who step out on faith to be their own boss: IT’S NOT EASY! By supporting them, we’re tapping into a wellspring of possibilities, opening doors, literally and figuratively, and to new products, services, and communities, as well as encouraging them to keep going. After all, when Black-owned businesses thrive, they create jobs, empower neighborhoods, and inspire the next generation of aspiring entrepreneurs. We’re proud to say that thanks to our efforts that night, Mason’s Super Dogs will be partnering with Hippin’ Hops Brewery – two Black businesses connected by these efforts who will now support each other.
The significance of business mentorship cannot be overstated. Mentorship has the power to bridge knowledge gaps, provide guidance through challenges, and open doors that may have seemed closed. In the context of Black Business Month, mentorship takes on even greater importance. By connecting experienced business leaders with aspiring Black entrepreneurs, we create a cycle of empowerment that breaks down barriers and fosters lasting change. I had the privilege of witnessing this first-hand when Clarence Boston, owner of Hippin’ Hops Brewery and host venue for Generations of Success program, extended the offer to 17-year-old Mason Wright, the young founder of Mason’s Super Dogs to give him a chance to run the kitchen with a restaurant takeover! I imagine a world where experienced business professionals actively share their insights, experiences, and networks with Black entrepreneurs. This exchange not only propels individual businesses forward but also nurtures a culture of collaboration and shared success. Through mentorship, we offer practical advice, instill confidence, and help entrepreneurs navigate complex business landscapes, increasing their chances of sustainable success.
At Decide DeKalb, we’re committed to fostering an environment where Black entrepreneurs can thrive. We’re launching initiatives that provide access to funding resources and tailored support to address the unique challenges faced by many Black small businesses. The South DeKalb Pop-up Incubator event, scheduled for Thursday, August 31, is one such effort. Information and resources will be available for anyone in business or looking to start a business.
So, as we continue celebrating Black Business Month, let us reaffirm our commitment to uplifting and supporting Black entrepreneurs whenever possible. This is a call to action for businesses, organizations, and individuals alike to stand alongside Black small-businesses and champion the transformative power of diversity in DeKalb County. Let us work together to ensure that every aspiring Black entrepreneur has the resources, mentorship, and opportunities they need to succeed. Because when we uplift Black businesses, we uplift our entire community. I will always celebrate not only the achievements of our Black small-business owners but also the boundless potential that lies ahead for them.