According to the inaugural FitSmallBusiness study, Black entrepreneurs have a lot to celebrate. In 2018, the top 100 Black owned companies generated $30 billion. From 2007 to 2012, the number of Black owned firms increased 34 percent, there are now over 2.6 million in the country. The message is clear: Black entrepreneurs and Black people are beginning to see the need for strong Black firms. There is one small problem, however, and that is Black consumers haven’t caught up to the entrepreneurs in the community.
The U.S. economy is expected to reach $22.32 trillion in 2020. $30 billion– even $300 billion– isn’t all that much, frankly, in the grand scheme of things. Black owned businesses must generate more and to do so, it will require Black consumers to adopt a more militant approach to spending. That “militancy” doesn’t require dramatic actions or deprivation, as our 2020 Blueprint campaign demonstrates (click here for this month’s installment). Black consumers must take small actions, collectively and daily, in order to begin shifting dollars from “them” to “us.” Black people are spending the money, it’s just a matter of where and with whom.
Walmart, the largest employer in the country, is expected to take in $344 billion in revenue in the U.S. alone, this year. Walmart’s customer base is over ten percent Black so presumably, Black people are spending billions of dollars in Walmart. For every ten products Black consumers are buying at Walmart, the goal should be to find at least one that can be purchased from a Black owned company. Will it be convenient? No. Will it always be cheaper or easier? No and no. The question that must be answered, however, is when has freedom ever been free or convenient? Nothing in the history of Black people would suggest that progress is convenient or easy. Based on that history, then, Black people shouldn’t expect things to come easy in the future.
The top 100 Black owned firms are generating $30 billion annually and that’s certainly a great distance from chattel slavery. Still, there is so much more potential for growth and progress. That progress, however, will largely depend on the discipline of Black consumers. $1 trillion, $2 trillion, Black consumers will decide how high we climb and how far we will go.