Manuel Campbell is CEO of ASPIRE Community Capital, a Charlotte nonprofit organization that provides training and resources to entrepreneurs in under-resourced communities.
As we mark another Black History Month, many in our city are working to bridge the deeply rooted, complex, systemic, and challenging social justice issues that still exist in Charlotte. At ASPIRE Community Capital, we believe that it’s imperative to connect these social issues with the systemic economic racism pervasive in many of our institutions.
In the Charlotte area, our large financial institutions tend to be conservative in their approach to funding, focusing primarily on established businesses with proven track records while ignoring many Black- and Brown-owned microbusiness vital to the local economy.
This lack of attention and funding results in businesses with underdeveloped processes and procedures, barriers to information and assistance, and a lack of exposure to markets outside of their own communities.
So how can ordinary residents support local Black entrepreneurs during Black History Month and beyond? It’s all about showing up and using our personal resources and dollars to make a difference.
At ASPIRE Community Capital, we challenge you to:
Invest in Black Businesses. As we continue to fight COVID-19, remember to support your local, Black-owned businesses. This year has been tough on all of us, so making a conscious effort to invest in Black-owned businesses will make a difference. If you aren’t sure where to start, try a quick search on social media or Google to find Black-owned businesses in your area, then purchase the products or services they offer. Where you send your dollars matter.
Attend Virtual Events. The world has moved from in-person activities to more virtual events. This provides a great opportunity for event-goers to be more present than ever before. If a business you love and support is part of a virtual summit or workshop, show up for them. It is a great way to socialize with your favorite businesses without leaving the comfort of your home.
Like, Comment, and Share. Supporting Black-owned businesses doesn’t have to cost money. Instead, show your support by engaging with their marketing efforts and sharing posts with your friends. Because of algorithms and other factors, it can be hard for Black businesses to get the attention they so rightly deserve. Your likes, comments, and shares can make a huge difference and are absolutely free to do. Will you commit to being social on social media?
Share Your Thoughts. Part of growing in business means listening and adjusting to the needs of your customers. But how can a business do that if no one is providing feedback to them? Next time you visit and invest in a Black business, fill out a survey or suggestion note to let the business owner know what they did right and if there are opportunities for improvement. We want our Black business to succeed; they need our support and feedback to do so effectively.
We’d love to hear your thoughts – some of the ways you support Black entrepreneurs. Join us on Facebook to tell us what you think.
About Us: ASPIRE Community Capital’s mission is to radically transform lives and communities through small business ownership and the provision of business training, one-on-one coaching, and access to capital resources for underserved and aspiring entrepreneurs (18 years of age and older) from LMI communities in the greater Charlotte area. Learn more at www.aspirecommunitycapital.org.