DETROIT, Michigan — The pandemic hit Black-owned businesses hard and many of them were forced to shut down.
“Some of the issues that exist in cities like Detroit are exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Dwan Dandridge, the CEO of Black Leaders Detroit. “What we like to say at Black Leaders Detroit is there are pre-existing conditions that exist in the Black business community. There is a lack of equal access to capital and resources and funding.”
According to a report by the House Committee on Small Businesses, Black business ownership declined by more than 40% since the pandemic.
Part of the struggle for many Black businesses stems from the lack of financial savings and less access to capital, such as the federal Paycheck Protection Program.
The National Bureau of Economic Research says less than 2% of the roughly 4 million small businesses that received loans during the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program went to Black-owned businesses.
“What we do here at Black Leaders Detroit is provide access to capital for the Black entrepreneurs,” said Dandridge. “To date, we’ve donated over $400,000 to Black-owned businesses and nonprofits in the City of Detroit.”
An H&R Block study found Black-owned small businesses experienced at least a 50% decrease in revenue during the pandemic. That's compared to 37% among white-owned businesses.
“It hit really hard in Detroit in the beginning,” said Shannon Reeves, the owner of Bath Savvy Naturals. “Then not knowing what's going to happen with our business was just a scary time for everybody I think.”
Reeves’ family has owned Bath Savvy for years. During the pandemic, she had to shut down her physical store but still operated online.
“The marketplace we sold at was a collective of 50 different businesses,” Reeves said. “So, when the pandemic hit, there was no more indoor shopping. We had to shut down the store, but luckily we were fortunate enough to do business online. Then, recently, we opened our new store to and we’ve been busy ever since.”
Dandridge and other nonprofits are advocating for people to shop at local Black-owned businesses to help keep the community thriving.
“It’s important that we remember that people who operate and run these stores spend money in our communities,” Dandridge said. “They hire in our communities. If we want to see these communities thrive, if you want to spend money are going to spend money, think of these businesses first.”