There’s no doubt that the best and most meaningful way to support Black-owned businesses is to buy from them long-term. Highlighting them during Black History Month is a good first step that business leaders can expand on by incorporating supportive initiatives for Black businesses into their operational processes.
Here are five ways to set your business up to have a long-term impact:
1. Add Black businesses to your vendor list. Diversify your supply chain by adding Black-owned businesses to your vendor network. Whether you pick a business to source products from or a service-based business to enhance your operations, Black businesses are present in all sectors of the economy.
Start by picking one product or service and then matching it with a Black vendor. Using directories like the Buy From A Black Woman Online Directory with verified businesses is a good way to streamline your search. Once you’ve gone through the process of vetting them and securing a partnership, consider what other areas of your business you can do this with.
According to a 2021 Bain & Company report, having a diverse supply chain can improve your procurement processes overall. Companies that prioritize supply chain diversity have a 20% higher annual retention rate than those that don’t. They also have higher rates when it comes to pre-approved spending, electronic purchase orders and requisition to order processing times, as well as faster invoice approvals.
Image via Bain & Company
2. Donate cash as part of your CSR initiatives. Give Black organizations a cash donation. This way you can meet your corporate social responsibility goals while directly supporting Black businesses.
Tory Burch Scottsdale’s Black History Month event is a good example of this. The store is celebrating Black History Month with a shopping event and donating a portion of the proceeds to the nonprofit that I founded, Buy From A Black Woman.
And the in-store celebration has the added benefit of community engagement. By allowing its customers to participate, it gets to educate and inform them on the work we’re doing to advocate for Black women business owners. So, by sharing space with us, they’re bringing our mission to a broader audience while building goodwill, since they’re demonstrating their investment in a more equitable future.
Initiatives like this are also good for business because 77% of consumers are more likely to buy from companies doing their part to “make the world a better place.” And 73% of investors consider this when making their investment decisions, according to a 2019 Aflac CRS Survey. So, supporting Black organizations in this way is not only good for society, it’s great for your bottom line.
Image via Aflac
3. Donate products and services. Donate your expertise, services or products to Black-owned businesses in your network. If your business specializes in digital marketing, your team can create strategies for Black businesses or optimize their websites. If you’re an Saas company, you can gift a subscription to your tool or software.
Gifting your services has the added benefit of including your employees and helping them meet their volunteer hours. This will improve employee satisfaction and well-being, boost morale, and improve employee relationships and leadership, according to Score.
Image via Score
4. Refer Black businesses for opportunities. Leverage your access and your network to connect Black-owned businesses to contracts, funding, mentorship programs and other opportunities that will help them grow. Introduce them to decision-makers and influential people in your network and recommend them for initiatives where possible.
The goal is to cultivate a supportive ecosystem that helps Black business owners circumnavigate the roadblocks they encounter due to systemic racism. The latest data from McKinsey & Company shows that lack of helpful business relationships translates into challenges accessing business services and expertise; exclusion from receiving information on high-potential opportunities; and fewer connections to informal networks and formal hubs, such as venture-capital funds.
In the long term, these obstacles make it difficult for Black businesses to access capital, generate revenue and, ultimately, grow and scale. You can change this by being a supportive connection.
5. Reach out and ask what support they need. Connect with Black-owned businesses and ask how you can support them. Their needs may vary depending on the nature and maturity of their business, but this is the best way to support their immediate needs. It’s the best way to create long-term, organic initiatives since you’ll be supporting them on their terms. Which is especially meaningful given the fact that they can’t even live or do business on their terms, making it a surefire way to build long-lasting connections within the Black business community.
Reaching out to ask what they need is also the simplest option.
Long-Term Support Is the Key to Impact
Whether you opt for a combination of financial and operational support, or you become an advocate and sponsor for Black businesses, do it long term. Adopting an approach that allows you to consistently partner with and support Black-owned businesses is the key to having true impact. It’ll elevate the businesses and create goodwill for your customers and employees. But more importantly, you’re supporting communities that support you.
Nikki Porcher is an advocate for Black women, the founder of Buy From A Black Woman, a military veteran and a marathon runner. She has a long list of accomplishments, including helping Black women founders drive more than $2.7 million in revenue in the last 12 months. But the one that matters most is the fact that she shows up for Black women business owners every day and in every way.