Black History Month and Black Entrepreneurship

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The tradition of Black entrepreneurship in America stretches back centuries. Thomas Jennings was one of the first African Americans to receive a patent for his dry cleaning technique in 1821. Madam CJ Walker became America’s first female self-made millionaire in 1913 by commercializing cosmetics and hair care products for Black women. Today there are an estimated 2.6 million Black-owned businesses in the United States that generate more than $150 billion in revenue, all despite persistent wealth and funding gaps that make it more difficult for Black entrepreneurs to succeed.

Recent data from the Federal Reserve shows what a racial funding gap looks like in action. When a Black entrepreneur walks into a bank and asks for a loan, only about 61% get at least a percentage of what they ask for — and when they do get approved, Black owners receive an interest rate significantly higher than white owners. Some herald technological solutions to racist lending practices, but algorithms tend to reflect their creators’ biases. The simple fact is that it is harder to be a Black small business owner, yet millions of Black Americans choose to walk the entrepreneurial path. With this report, Hello Alice set out to understand what that path looks like for the approximately 79,000 Black small business owners on our platform. By reviewing a combination of anonymous user data and survey responses from our growing body of grant applications, a picture emerges of who they are, where they operate, what they need, and how we can all ensure the success of a vibrant, Black-owned economy across the United States.

The above is the Executive Summary of The Black-Owned Economy: A Hello Alice Impact Report in Partnership with the NAACP and DivInc. Click here to download the report.

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