Though February is when we celebrate and honor Black history and heritage, supporting Black female entrepreneurs should be a top priority year-round. Not only is it vital to help our fellow woman, but since Black women are historically vastly underpaid and underrepresented, it’s even more critical that we take action. So, where should you begin, and how can you ensure your spending power makes the biggest impact? We spoke with 10 inspiring, successful and pioneering Black female leaders to guide your goals in 2023 and beyond.
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See Past The Label
“An actionable step is for women to see Black female entrepreneurs for the mental capacity they represent, not for any labels placed on them. Labels tend to elicit implicit and explicit biases; hence, it is important to support the Black female entrepreneur for what she can actually deliver—and not for the general assumption of what she can deliver. A Black female entrepreneur must first be viewed as a human that exists as an entity outside of her business. I’d recommend that women support black female entrepreneurs by teaching their minds to seek the story behind the woman, not just the work she has produced or is producing.”
—Tayo Ishola, the founder of I Am Eido
Know What Support Looks Like — And Get Involved
“Each and every step we take to support women entrepreneurs around the world causes a ripple effect that impacts children, families, communities and inevitably our future. Women are the key to a better world for all of humanity, so every single action and step we take to support them simply makes the world a better place. Ways to take action include getting involved in organizations that foster empowerment; hosting networking events in your community with your peers and colleagues; and working collectively to cross-promote and cross-collaborate, which essentially will expand your audience.”
— Dr. Biruk Alemayehu, the founder of Addis Nola
Share Your Expertise For Free (or Deferred Payment)
“If you have legal or financial experience, share it for free or deferred payment so that the entrepreneur you care about is set up for success. Connect them with loans, get their LLC straight and discuss the pros and cons of putting themselves on the payroll in terms of government assistance, etc. Term life insurance can be used as a guarantee for some loans, but only if you have it. Don’t forget about lease negotiations: the commercial real estate market is a wreck right now; wherever possible, help them take advantage of this moment. Talk these things through, over several meetings, in terms of long- and short-term benefits and costs.”
—Majora Carter, real estate developer and author of ‘Reclaiming Your Community: You Don’t Have to Move Out of Your Neighborhood to Live in a Better One’
Elevate Their Work
“One of the struggles that Black female entrepreneurs experience is that they often do not have access to the same referral sources and opportunities for visibility that their white peers may have. When appropriate, use the various platforms to ‘shout out’ the work of other incredible entrepreneurs and make sure that Black women are among those you are promoting and elevating. A great sign of support is to make sure on your list of referrals to companies they feature black women as well.”
—Kelley Bonner, a company culture strategist
Be an Advocate And Teacher
“There’s great power in word-of-mouth recommendations that can take a brand even further beyond traditional social media and marketing campaigns. And it’s free. Tell their story to others, help shine a light on their hard work and drive home what sets them apart from the competition.
If you work with a team, educate them about the importance of incorporating diversity into your business and the value in partnering with Black female entrepreneurs. Working for a company that values (diversity, equity and inclusion) helps us bring forth new ideas and diverse businesses to incorporate into our venue and event offerings. It helps ensure that our teams look as diverse as the guests we are serving each day.”
—Tracey Jenkins, a woman of color and senior vice president of human resources, Sodexo Live!
Use Your Pocketbook — And Hiring Power
“The number one way to support Black female entrepreneurs is with your pocketbook. Take a page from TikTok influencer Keith Lee and ‘just go buy the thing.’ If you’re there to support a Black-owned business, don’t ask for discounts or free products by flexing your number of followers or ability to give exposure through your social network status; that is not true support. Just click the ‘buy now’ button, swipe that card, or drop the coins. Also, seek Black female-owned vendors and consultants for your own company. If you work for a company that doesn’t have supplier diversity initiatives, ask them why they don’t. If the company purchases supplies or services for the office, client gifts, or professional development, proactively search for companies founded by Black female entrepreneurs.”
—Desiree Noisette, the founder of Mermosa Wines
Give Feedback And Recommendations
“Give meaningful feedback about service delivery. If you liked the service and products you received, please let them know and/or write a great review. People like hearing good news. Conversely, if you did not like the service, please let them know in a nice way how they can improve. Most people are open to constructive ways to improve their service delivery. Tell your friends about the business and encourage others to support the business. As you make referrals, let the owner know who you referred so she can reference your name in providing service to your referral. Referrals are a great source of revenue for most businesses.”
—JoLinda Herring, the CEO and managing shareholder of Bryant Miller Olive P.A. (BMO).
Be Intentional With Everyday Purchases
The simplest way to support Black entrepreneurs is to shop from their businesses. Can you remember your most recent purchase from a Black female business owner? No matter what you’re shopping for, if you put a little intention behind your search, you’re sure to find a Black-owned business that caters to your needs.
If you use Amazon for your online shopping, you can find more information about the businesses you support on their ‘seller credentials’ page. Companies can list if they’re Black-owned, Latinx-owned, or women-owned to give you more insight into their background. Make a habit of checking out that seller’s page before you shop. To make it even easier, the Amazon Launchpad site spotlights small businesses nonstop, including features for minority-run companies.
If you use Google Shopping, there’s a similar feature with business tags for underrepresented communities. Please be on the lookout for Black-owned and women-owned (or women-led) businesses to narrow your shopping pool.”
—Dr. Candace Steele Flippin, the author of ‘Get Your Career in SHAPE’
Understand Why it Matters
“Entrepreneurship isn’t easy for anyone. But Black female entrepreneurs face added challenges due to historical bias rooted in slavery, where African diaspora people were designated as property in America — not considered human — and have been fighting since then for recognition, equity and access to opportunity. Although Jim Crow laws were deemed unconstitutional in 1954 and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s forced the end of segregation, unfair business, banking and housing practices persist, creating a racial wealth gap between Black Americans and other groups. Black founders receive less funding than their peers and are often shut out of traditional banking and business financing. It’s important to understand the history and why supporting Black female entrepreneurs is an act of social justice.”
—Cheryl Overton, the founder and chief experience officer at Cheryl Overton Communications
READ MORE ON HERMONEY:
- 6 Black Owned-Businesses That Are Saving The Planet (And Making Awesome Gifts)
- 7 Nonprofits Elevating Black Women’s Voices
- The Hill We Climb:Black Women And The Battle To Build Wealth
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