Michael Pitts: Are you doing your part to support Black businesses?

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We can’t do it alone.

As August comes to a close, so does National Black Business Month. But supporting Black-owned businesses shouldn’t be relegated to only one month — especially since these businesses are facing unprecedented challenges.

While businesses have made it to the other side of the pandemic, many Black-owned businesses are struggling to recover due to inequalities. For example, banking practices make it harder for Black business owners to secure a business loan, and when they do get approved, interest rates are higher. Access to capital isn’t the only barrier we face — there is a racial wealth gap.

A recent study found that the typical Black household holds about 12 cents for every dollar of wealth owned by the typical White family. Combining these inequalities with a worldwide pandemic makes it almost impossible to do well as a Black entrepreneur.

I’ve witnessed these struggles firsthand and made it my goal to unite the Black business community to overcome these obstacles through my role as president of Black Business Orlando. Our Facebook group has grown to over 26,000 members working to increase wealth for future generations. We serve as a hub for the community to find local Black-owned businesses to support and for business owners to connect with peers and share business success tips.

Although Black-owned businesses saw unprecedented support in 2020, that support was short-lived. The economic environment of 2022 has proven to be harsh for so many businesses. However, Black business owners still reeling from the pandemic are especially being impacted by crushing inflation, rising gas prices, and a housing market that has priced out many Black families.

Black-business owners remain underappreciated and undersupported during these challenging times. Black businesses help make up the heart of our communities, and I’m afraid our state won’t appreciate their impact until it’s too late. Our group works hard to support Black-owned businesses, but we can’t do it alone.

I encourage our leaders, our communities, and our neighbors across the state to join in the effort to support Black-owned businesses all year long. Be intentional about finding local Black-owned establishments. Technology has made it easier than ever to find these businesses in your community and to share your positive experiences by leaving reviews. And tag these businesses in your social posts — every bit of exposure helps.

Together, we can reverse the inequalities for Black entrepreneurs in our state. Not only will this help our economic environment become fair for all, but it will push Florida to become a center of innovation and entrepreneurship.

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Michael Pitts is president of Black Business Orlando.

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