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Home Entrepreneurship 25% Of Philadelphia Businesses Are Black Owned

25% Of Philadelphia Businesses Are Black Owned

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52nd Street in West Philadelphia is one of the few corridors in the city with a high rate of black business ownership. (Jessica Griffen/Philadelphia Media Network)

Blacks make up 44% of the population in the Philadelphia area. In a perfect world, 44% of the businesses in the area would be Black owned, although the national average is 9.3%. A new study, however, put the percentage of Black owned businesses in the region at a mere 2.5%. That number didn’t sit well with people on the ground, who argue that the “official” count is missing a few critical things. When those factors are considered, the number is actually 25%.

The Pew Charitable Trusts’ annual “State of the City” report indicated that only 2.5% of the businesses in the Philadelphia region were Black owned — just 1 in 40. Not everyone agrees with Pew’s findings, however. Donovan Sterling West serves as president of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, the city’s largest organization for Black owned businesses. The problem with the Pew study, which cites most recent census figures, is that it doesn’t include businesses with no paid employees. When sole proprietors are considered, Black owned businesses account for 25.1% of the region’s businesses.

Most Black owned businesses, nationally, are sole proprietorships. That means the founder singlehandedly runs the company and is responsible for all debts. These types of businesses have no payroll and naturally, would elude census counts. Common examples of “one man shows” might include caterers, daycare providers, construction workers, subcontractors, and people in the gig economy. While these businesses are a great launching pad for Black entrepreneurs to escape the conventional 9 to 5, they do have limitations. In the first place, sole proprietors have no legal protection if things go wrong — they are personally responsible for all debts and other liabilities. Further, it is much harder to access capital and other government incentives, without scaling up.

The numbers in Philly are encouraging and at the same time, cautionary. Sole proprietorship is the starting line of business development and should be celebrated. Still, the goal is to grow, scale and hire more employees from the community. Those things can happen but our sole proprietors need the support of the community.

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D'Juan Hopewell
I care about Black Power. Period. Currently working on creating jobs and funding new startups on the South Side of Chicago and writing here and there at HopewellThought.com. Follow me @HopewellThought.
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6 COMMENTS

  1. This is amazing! I am from Chicago and moved to philly, I lived right on 50th I’m west philly and shopped frequently on 52nd street! I would love to see this happen in Chitown!

  2. I’m so thankful to have come across this article. Congratulations to the movers & shakers & innovators in these articles. May our God continue to download new revelations & strategies to all of you. I want to stay connected to this community.

  3. Having been born and raised in Jim crow Arkansas I can still feel that climate at past age 80, it exists in other areas too I learned as a career military wife and living in many places through the years. Your community sounds like such a lovely place to call home.

  4. I love seeing that 1/4 of all businesses in Philly are black-owned. Go, Philly. Looking at this, I’m very encouraged and inspired. This goes to show the resilience and resourcefulness of black people, especially black entrepreneurs. I love seeing the resilience of my people, against all odds. We survive, thrive, and succeed above all advertisies thrown at us. Black-Owned Businesses in the State of North Carolina contribute $44 Billion a year to that state’s economy. Black-Owned Businesses in Atlanta generate over $7 Billion a year for the local economy in The ATL. Many of the most resilient and successful black entrepreneurs in America are black barbers and hairstylists. From the time of slavery to after the Civil War, black barbers were among the elite professionals and business owners in America, and many still are today. Barbering for well over 160+years, maybe longer has served as a way for black men to achieve financial independence and economic self-sufficiency along with self-respect and dignity as men. Countless black men in America from Alonzo Herndon in Atlanta, down to Shawn Corbett of Charlotte, North Carolina who owns The Lucky Spot Barbershop inside of a Charlotte Wal-Mart and now has plans to open up barbershops in other Wal-Mart Stores across the country, have used barbering as a weapon of war against White Supremacy and Racism and as a tool for black empowerment. Black Entrepreneurs are the most innovative, creative, and resourceful people on EARTH. We make headway out of no way possible. Look at Boxville in Chicago. Black folks took some ole raggedy-ass shipping containers and discarded materials and built a thriving ass Commercial District in the Bronzeville Neighborhood along 51st Street. That’s just fuckin incredible. We have so much great stuff going for us as a people and we need to utilize, maximize, grow, increase, and preserve this for future generations to come.

  5. What I really want black people to see and realize is that we are an absolutely great people. We are an extremely awesome and very dynamic people. We are God’s 1st people, created in the Image of the Heavenly Father himself, and descendants of the Biblical Israelites and are God’s, First Born. Exodus 4:22 says “Israel is my Son, even my firstborn”. And we don’t need to look to anything from the past or seek some nostalgia for the old days, we are a great people today in 2022. We are an awesome and dynamic people who are doing so many awesome things today. I got a list of about 100 BLACK HEROES & SHEROES of today who are moving the trains forward at an accelerated rate in a very positive and productive way on behalf of black people. These 100 Strong Black Men & Women are creating positive change in our community and in the world every day. They include folks like Killer Mike, T.I., Rick Ross, Puffy, Snoop, Common, Mignon Francois, Pinky Cole, Reggie Webb, Kareem Webb, James Butts, Ambassador Andrew Young, Gregory Baranco, Egbert Perry, Tyler Perry, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Aisha Brown, Pam Brown Courtney, Dr. Boyce Watkins, Minister Louis Farrakhan, George C Fraser, John Hope Bryant, Tariq Nasheed, Bishop TD Jakes, Les Brown, Trez Pugh III, Stephanie Hart, Margo Strotter, Derrick Johnson, Ryan Glover, Tamera Dyson, and so many others. These men and women are real movers and shakers who get the trains moving in the right direction and put the shit in overdrive. Most of these names mentioned here are not celebrities or politicians, they’re mostly ordinary everyday people who are doing extraordinary and amazing things every day. Most of them are actually successful business owners and social commentary personalities who are just doing the damn thing. Most of them are people nobody even knows about them, but every last one of them is making a difference in the lives of people in the black community and in the world. They are giving 2nd chances to brothers and sisters whom no one else will and create opportunities and employment for people that our society has thrown to the dogs long ago. And they are doing this on a massive scale like never before. I don’t care about religious doctrine, political affiliations, sexual orientation, nationality, family background, or who’s getting it on with who, I’m only interested in what people actually do and how that impacts the black community, the black diaspora, and the entire human family as a whole in a positive way. Anything else I could care less. And that’s real.

  6. What I really want black people to see and realize is that we are an absolutely great people. We are an extremely awesome and very dynamic people. We are God’s 1st people, created in the Image of the Heavenly Father himself, and descendants of the Biblical Israelites and are God’s, First Born. Exodus 4:22 says “Israel is my Son, even my firstborn”. And we don’t need to look to anything from the past or seek some nostalgia for the old days, we are a great people today in 2022. We are an awesome and dynamic people who are doing so many awesome things today. I got a list of about 100 BLACK HEROES & SHEROES of today who are moving the trains forward at an accelerated rate in a very positive and productive way on behalf of black people. These 100 Strong Black Men & Women are creating positive change in our community and in the world every day. They include folks like Killer Mike, T.I., Rick Ross, Puffy, Snoop, Common, Mignon Francois, Pinky Cole, Reggie Webb, Kareem Webb, James Butts, Ambassador Andrew Young, Gregory Baranco, Egbert Perry, Tyler Perry, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Aisha Brown, Pam Brown Courtney, Dr. Boyce Watkins, Minister Louis Farrakhan, George C Fraser, John Hope Bryant, Tariq Nasheed, Bishop TD Jakes, Les Brown, Trez Pugh III, Stephanie Hart, Margo Strotter, Derrick Johnson, Ryan Glover, Tamera Dyson, and so many others. These men and women are real movers and shakers who get the trains moving in the right direction and put the shit in overdrive. Most of these names mentioned here are not celebrities or politicians, they’re mostly ordinary everyday people who are doing extraordinary and amazing things every day. Most of them are actually successful business owners and social commentary personalities who are just doing the damn thing. Most of them are people nobody even knows about them, but every last one of them is making a difference in the lives of people in the black community and in the world. They are giving 2nd chances to brothers and sisters whom no one else will and create opportunities and employment for people that our society has thrown to the dogs long ago. And they are doing this on a massive scale like never before. I don’t care about religious doctrine, political affiliations, sexual orientation, nationality, family background, or who’s getting it on with who, I’m only interested in what people actually do and how that impacts the black community, the black diaspora, and the entire human family as a whole in a positive way. Anything else I could care less.

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