Facebook announced a $40 million grant program for Black owned businesses on last week. The company plans to extend 10,000 grants to Black entrepreneurs with up to 50 employees. This latest outreach to Black businesses follows several others, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. This season of “gifts” for Black businesses could ultimately mirror the fortunes of most lottery winners that go broke later, if caution is exercised. Grant dollars should be used to build stronger, more independent Black institutions.
Money into the Black community will only benefit others, if there isn’t a keen focus on building from within. Black entrepreneurs who receive grants are largely using them to pay landlords, suppliers and marketing agencies, who don’t look like them. Money into Black businesses that isn’t recycled within the community has only marginal value. There must be a keen focus on producing what the community needs, from within the community. A gallon of water poured for a thirsty man is of no value, if the bucket is leaky. Black entrepreneurs must focus on making sure their business structure, accounting and legal foundations are solid.
Grants from big corporations, into businesses that aren’t sound or that have no ability to recirculate the Black collar, will ultimately serve as a stimulus package for other communities. Black entrepreneurs must find a way to look beyond the momentary and consider the future. Keeping Black businesses alive is important for sure but survival alone can’t be the goal. How can these grants be used to make Black businesses and communities more self-sustaining, is the larger question. Money given to Black businesses can be helpful but in the longterm, it must be put to use in ways that ensure future generations are able to function more independently.