5 ways to support Black-owned businesses year-round

Wisconsin is the worst state in the nation for racial equality and integration, but supporting Black-owned businesses can improve our communities.
Blackbizexpo Panel

As we recognize Black history throughout the month of February, it’s important to take time to support and highlight the Black entrepreneurs leading trustworthy businesses and providing opportunities across Greater Madison. The continued success of Black-owned businesses is crucial to building thriving communities.

Wisconsin still has a long way to go in achieving racial equality and integration. According to a recent survey from WalletHub, the Badger State is ranked 50 out of 51 — ahead of only the District of Columbia — for racial integration nationally. That’s not an outlier either. A 2020 report from WalletHub also ranked Wisconsin 50 out of 51 — again, leading only the District of Columbia — on racial equality. There’s much work to be done.

“As an economic development agency, we know that investing in Black-owned businesses is a good decision that helps build a better Madison and strengthen our community,” says Camille Carter, president of the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce. “It is essential to support and patronize these businesses because the sustainability of their operations will have direct and lasting impacts to our neighborhoods and school districts. We know that when businesses are healthy, they will hire employees at above living wages, unemployment rates will decrease, and homeownership will increase.

“As residents of Wisconsin, we need a conscientious mindset to improve our community for all,” Carter continues. “Intentional actions can influence improvements for more equitable outcomes that stimulate growth and change.”

Carter notes it’s important now more than ever that the Madison community comes together to support local businesses. But for Black-owned businesses, it goes beyond merely spending dollars.

“Yes, please patronize our Black-owned businesses as they really need the support to keep them strong,” states Carter. “Additionally, people can support the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce as we graciously receive financial donations to assist in the delivery of services and programming to our businesses and members. We actively seek volunteers and technical assistance partners and business professionals to share talents and resources. We really need business coaches and mentors who we can leverage to help guide our business successfully as they navigate turbulent, uncertain times.”

Here are five more ways to support Black-owned businesses in our community.

1. Be more intentional about your purchases.

Create good habits by thinking more about where your purchases come from. Consider the stores and brands you support, and research how they interact with their community.

Taking the time to better understand where you shop not only helps you make better purchases but also drives the success of brands that do good in their communities.

2. Leave a review for the business.

As one of the first places consumers look for information about a purchase, online customer reviews play a huge role in business success. Consumers check online reviews to see a business’s star rating and to get an idea of the general customer experience.

Writing a review for Black-owned businesses you love helps them establish a strong reputation and encourages other shoppers to do business there.

3. Share their social media posts.

Online customer reviews aren’t the only place consumers look for business information. Many consumers first learn about businesses on social media, and they connect with businesses online to guide their purchase decisions.

Plus, most businesses say social media is their preferred place to build strong customer relationships according to Sprout Social. Sharing social media posts is one of the most reliable ways to introduce more people to Black-owned businesses.

4. Buy gift cards for friends and family.

Another way to introduce friends and family to your favorite Black-owned businesses is by buying them gift cards. Gift cards enable people to try something new without the stakes of spending their own money, and if they have a good experience, they might just become loyal customers.

5. Support organizations that foster Black entrepreneurship.

Think beyond where you shop by supporting organizations that empower Black entrepreneurs. Many organizations provide education, mentorship, and grant opportunities to underserved and underrepresented communities.

By donating to or volunteering with these organizations, you can help Black business owners grow and achieve their goals. Visit Give.org to find organizations advocating for Black entrepreneurs in our community, and connect with the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce to learn more about their member organizations.

Black History Month is a great time to highlight Black-owned businesses, but you can make an even greater impact by making it a habit to support Black entrepreneurs year-round. When consumers support businesses that make a positive impact, the whole community is stronger.

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