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Celebrate Black Business Month: Empowering Black-Owned Businesses in San Francisco and the US

View of San Francisco from Dolores Park.
  • Donald Pollitt

August is a month of celebration, not only for the warm summer days but also for something much more significant — Black Business Month. This annual event is a time to acknowledge and appreciate the invaluable contributions of Black-owned businesses in San Francisco and across the United States. It is a recognition of their role in promoting diversity, equality, and economic growth.

The impact of Black-owned businesses on the nation's economy cannot be underestimated. Around 10% of all American businesses are Black-owned, and among minority-owned businesses, about 30% belong to Black entrepreneurs. These businesses span various sectors, including health care, social work, repair and maintenance, beauty salons, restaurants, and more.

The roots of Black Business Month date back to 2004 when Frederick E. Jordan, an engineering entrepreneur, and John William Templeton, the president of eAccess Corp, joined forces to initiate this annual celebration. Their goal was to support the 2.6 million African American businesses and empower Black business owners to overcome unique challenges they faced in the entrepreneurial journey. Frederick E. Jordan's personal experience of struggling to secure financial backing when he started his own firm in San Francisco in 1969 inspired the founding of this event.

Despite the odds stacked against them, many Black entrepreneurs have achieved remarkable success, paving the way for future generations. From the late 1700s, free and enslaved Black individuals ventured into various businesses, including barbershops, tobacco shops, and shoemaking. The period between 1900 and 1930 is often referred to as the 'golden age' of Black-owned businesses, with entire districts, like Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma, flourishing under Black ownership.

One notable organization that supported African American entrepreneurship was The National Negro Business League, established in 1915. Its influence extended to over 34 states, providing widespread support for Black entrepreneurs. By 2002, 1.2 million of the 23 million businesses in the United States were Black-owned, generating over $150 billion in revenue.

In San Francisco, under the leadership of Mayor London N. Breed, efforts to support and strengthen the legacy of Black entrepreneurship are underway. The creation of a directory of Black-owned businesses aims to highlight the vibrant Black business community and provide residents with an easy way to find and support these enterprises. This initiative aligns with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development's mission to promote equitable economic opportunities for all communities and enhance economic outcomes for Black-owned businesses in the City.

As we celebrate Black Business Month, let us recognize the resilience and creativity of Black entrepreneurs who have persevered against all odds. By supporting Black-owned businesses, we not only contribute to their success but also promote economic empowerment, equality, and diversity in San Francisco and across the United States. So, this August, let's join hands in celebrating and empowering the Black business community!