For years, Black and other minority businesses have struggled to get off the ground. According to JP Morgan Chase (“JPM”), systematic racism is part of the problem. JPM has studied the numbers, and they are striking. Blacks make up 12.7% of the population in America, yet of the 22.2% of business owners in the country, Blacks make up only 4.3%. The same story exists for Latinix-owned businesses. In both Black and Latinix communities, minority-owned businesses have less cash on hand in case of emergency, and they earn 21% less in revenue in their first year. JPM wants to do something about that.
JPM has begun getting these businesses access to coaching, technical assistance, and most importantly, access to capital, Politico reported. JPM has committed $30 billion over the next five years to battle systemic racism and advance racial equity in businesses. The Head of Business Development at JPM believes: “Companies have a responsibility to step up and help solve pressing societal challenges, as well as encourage others to do the same.” Amazon is on board.
Amazon has a minority program it calls “We Power Tech.” Under this program, Amazon uses technology to train professionals (and students) geared toward “amplifying the voices of leaders who have been underrepresented,” according to Amazon’s program site. This program focuses on women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community by providing events and workshops. They also partner with other organizations like the Aspen Institute’s Latinos in Society and provide services to people with disabilities. According to Amazon, these businesses have created more than 900,000 jobs, and the company allows these businesses to promote their products through Amazon’s systems. Amazon has also built special storefronts, including one for women-owned businesses, Black-owned businesses, and the Amazon Saheli Store, which contains products from women in India. Going one step further, Amazon uses its Kindle Direct Publishing arm to publish books from minority business owners in 40 languages and promoted content creation tools at Congressional Black Caucus and AfroTech Events. For the disabled, amazon provides voice technology and “frustration free packaging” so that disabled entrepreneurs can easily sell and ship products. These companies are making inroads for groups who have been typically shut out of business opportunities, which ultimately serves to increase revenue in minority communities.
As JPM indicated, the conditions for minority business owners were worsened by the pandemic. Ted Archer, JPM’s business development head, pointed out that the inability of minorities to fully access and take advantage of the system will limit our economic success overall. It is worth the time and effort that JPM, Amazon, and others are putting in to close the gap. Unless and until we are all able to participate in the economy of this country, the economy will never reach its full potential. Blacks, Latinos, and others have historically been “on the outside looking in,” and it says a lot about these companies that they are willing to reach out and lend a hand. The strength of our economy depends on all of us, and helping our brothers helps us.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years