Michael C. Pitts: Combat the pandemic’s effect on Black-owned businesses

Michael Pitts ART
'Black people spend 4% more money annually than any other race ...'

The pandemic has hit Black-owned businesses disproportionately hard. That probably does not surprise you, but it is still a reality we must keep at the forefront of our hearts, thoughts, and conversations. With COVID-19 cases still on the rise, it is more important than ever that we lift up Black businesses using both our dollars and our words.

Black History Month is the perfect opportunity to remember the contributions of Black-owned businesses that came before us and to support Black-owned businesses that are currently leading the way.

Here is the brutal truth: According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, 41% of Black-owned businesses have permanently closed because of the pandemic. By comparison, only 17% of white-owned businesses have closed. The research suggests many reasons for this: fewer Black firms were operating at a profit when the pandemic hit; fewer have a high credit score, or there is less money in their savings account to sustain their business during a downturn. Another reality is Black-owned businesses like mine are less likely to have strong bank relationships and access to capital.

According to The State of Working America, “Black people spend 4% more money annually than any other race although they are the least represented race and the race that lives in poverty at the highest rate.”

Spending our dollars at Black-owned businesses helps to build and sustain our communities.

With both old and new COVID-19 variants on the rise, this threatens how we do business. Black-owned businesses in our community fear the pandemic’s impact. It is more important than ever to support your local Black-owned businesses any way you can.

In addition to financially supporting businesses by shopping and seeking out Black-owned enterprises, it’s also important to harness the power of social media and share your support with the world. When you shop at a Black-owned business, tag that business on social media so others can read about your experience, leave a positive review on their Facebook page, share an Instagram story of products or services you loved.

And to my fellow Black business owners, I encourage you to find and offer support among your peers and community. We are all stronger when we lift each other up. Join groups and organizations that help cultivate and grow your business. For example, Black Business Orlando hosts a Facebook Group that provides a networking space for local business owners to connect. Since the start of the pandemic, our group has provided members with resources and support to help keep their doors open, such as Facebook Live virtual town halls to help members navigate government assistance programs and loans for small businesses.

Florida’s Black community is beautiful, vibrant, and connected. By bringing our Black business owners and professionals together, we can help each other to not just survive — but thrive. Join us at our restaurants, our beauty shops, our stores, and our offices. I, for one, will see you there.


Michael C. Pitts is the founder of Exclusive Marketing & Automation (a done-for-you marketing and consulting agency) and an Executive Member of Black Business Orlando (BBO), a group for business owners to connect and promote their endeavors. With a mission to inform, ignite, and inspire black businesses owners and supporters, BBO empowers businesses to operate at their best and create a community of thriving Black businesses.

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