As Joe Biden continues to garner support for his presidential election, his campaign has focused on connecting with an important part of the constituency: the black business owners. To achieve this goal, the company has launched Make It Happen Mondays, a series of weekly virtual round tables where African American entrepreneurs can share their challenges and learn about the Democratic presidential candidate’s innovative approaches and strategies to drive business growth.
Regular access to campaign officials, surrogates, and business executives through such programs is vital for those who own and operate businesses hardest hit by COVID-19 – an estimated 40% have been closed since the pandemic began – and are traditionally under pressure come from, among other things, lack of capital and contracts.
“An overarching goal in engaging our major constituency groups is to meet people where they are – in spaces where they are most comfortable, with people they know and focus on issues that they know concern, “said Kamau Marshall, director of strategic communications for the campaign BLACK COMPANY in an email.
“Make it Happen Mondays, coordinated by African American Engagement Director Trey Baker, is the perfect example of how to bring like-minded people together to not only boost turnout this fall, but also to inspire leaders and change makers in all walks of life. We are confident that these weekly conversations with black business owners will underscore a Biden Harris government’s commitment to promoting systemic change and empowering black business. “
Harris reaches the black business on the campaign path
Recent campaign contacts included Sen. Kamala Harris stopping the campaign at Labor Day in Milwaukee, where she spoke to entrepreneurs at a Black Business Roundtable entitled “Build Back Better”. During her performance, she advocated “the importance of building an entrepreneurial class”.
“Having our government and our priorities is part of Joe Biden and my priority of investing in entrepreneurship and investing not just through the work we will do but access to capital for small business management to Access to Capital Putting money in opportunity zones is part of that, but so is $ 150 billion in new capital and opportunities to invest in private venture capital and what the government can do, ”she said. “This is about investing not only in these specific communities, but also in our country. Understand that some of the greatest sources of wealth and intergenerational wealth come from this type of focus. “
She also stressed the value of community banks, citing that up to 90% of minority and women-owned small businesses have not taken advantage of Payment Protection Program (PPP) funds, “in large part because Donald Trump affected differently Was Over the Rich, the people who work every day trying to raise their families do not have access to such relationships. “
Among the other initiatives shared by the VP candidate was the proposal to make tax credits permanent to “increase funding up to $ 5 billion a year to provide equity investment credit for small businesses, the low-income and low-income Areas benefit ”.
Why Monday matters
Harris’ meeting took place a few hours before the last MIHM episode. The weekly sessions, co-hosted by New York MP and Democratic Committee Chairman Michael Blake, and entrepreneur and influencer Binta Brown, focus on COVID-19 relief, expanded access to capital, technical assistance, and more the unique challenges of women entrepreneurs.
Blake believes the program is vital to the future of African Americans. “The COVID era has raised the question of black people’s survival. Many of us talk about survival when it comes to whether we can physically make it today, but it also has to be whether black business makes it tomorrow, ”he claims. “Many believe that the main problem facing us is the economic state of the black market and its impact on the black community. Why we need Biden and Harris to win is that I don’t know if black business will survive if they don’t. “
According to Blake, Harris’ visit to Milwaukee showed that the campaign’s focus on developing black business is as important as social justice: “We are not just afraid that we cannot breathe. We don’t just wonder if we can survive the brutality of the police. We ask ourselves whether we can survive economically and whether we cannot do without black business. “
“That is why it is so important for us that we let it happen on Mondays to continuously demonstrate that we will show massive changes if we have the chance by offering economic opportunities to black business.” Now we need to create awareness so more people can understand their plan. “
Blake, who says he worked closely with Biden during his time in the Obama administration on issues like financial regulatory reform and known Harris since the 2008 campaign, says MIHM will alert companies to important proposals like the small business bailout On a better financial footing, SBA reforms to give businesses better access to finance, and strengthening of the Minority Business Development Agency by appointing the agency’s head as deputy secretary and lending authority. He believes that meeting participants will be equipped with the information to make the best choice on election day.
Screenshot from the episode “Make It Happen Monday” on Monday September 7th
Brown, the founder of Omalilly Projects, artist management and production company, says the roundtable series will help attract entrepreneurs to the Biden-Harris ticket, as the racial justice component of their business plan is used as a means to combat the ” Systems’ includes racism embedded in bank funding, government contracts, employee wages, and other such areas – all of which have slowed the growth of African-American owned companies ahead of the pandemic-hit economy. “It doesn’t matter how big the company is,” she says. “Most black companies still lack liquidity.”
Blake adds, “Black entrepreneurs need capital, contracts, advice and opportunities.
Highlight the persistence of black entrepreneurs
Blake is more than just a program that focuses on political issues. MIHM offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to tell their stories. That was evident from this week’s panelists who included Natalie Madeira Cofield, Founder and CEO of Walker’s Legacy, a global women’s corporate collective for entrepreneurial multicultural women. Darian Hall, co-founder of HealHaus, the Brooklyn, New York-based wellness company; and David Clunie, executive director of the Black Economic Alliance PAC, a political action group of black leaders and entrepreneurs, who announced news last week by approving the Biden Harris ticket.
While there was no gender breakdown of business ownership tied to the percentage of COVID-19-related black company closures, Madeira Cofield believes that black owned businesses have suffered by women as “approximately 60% of black businesses are founded and run are made by black women. “
She says, “At the time, the information we received from outlets and partners was anecdotal. We still don’t know how hard it was. We know what it’s like to close a store, but what is it like to close an online store or manufacturing facility. “
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 economy, Madiera Cofield claims that black companies can make significant strides despite believing the MBDA is getting more teeth or government programs like scrapping minority company closing plans that are on federal-8 (a ) -Set participate, be supported -aside program will prove helpful.
“In every moment of chaos there is opportunity. As people know. The Chinese character for chaos is the same for opportunity, ”she says. “We still see great stories about black business during this time. People who started businesses are now corona safe, which means black businesses are moving into the digital age because of this situation. “
Hall’s HealHaus, which offers yoga and meditation courses and runs a café with vegan and gluten-free options, is one of these companies. The pandemic forced him to shut down his business’s physical operations in mid-March as HealHaus was not classified as a material company. He also had to put his funding plans on hold.
The crisis forced Hall to quickly move into a digital company where he and his team offer online courses. “If you weren’t in New York, you wouldn’t really be able to experience HealHaus,” he says. “When we put everything online, programming opened up to the nation.” Due to his quick and flawless action, his annual sales of $ 350,000 appear to be on track to grow by about 15%.
Although Hall was one of the lucky entrepreneurs to get PPP funding, he said, “The most frustrating thing was that these multimillion-dollar businesses were getting money while most mom and pop businesses couldn’t get money.” Blacks are always the most affected. “
According to Hall, MIHM has proven to be an invaluable tool in giving black entrepreneurs a voice. “I’m glad these talks are on Mondays. They definitely don’t happen with the other side. Now we need to make sure that we translate these talks into real action.”
Make It Happen is produced by African Americans for Biden on Mondays and broadcast weekly on Black Enterprise’s social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn.