Black Americans currently, and have in time past operated various kinds of businesses ranging from insurance companies, banks, barber shops, restaurants, record labels, bookstores, beauty salons etc, however opportunities to operate these kinds of business didn’t come over night.
The inception of African American businesses date back to the 17th century during a period when blacks were being trafficked into North America. At this time, African Americans who had been freed from slavery decided the way to survive was to emulate the economic lifestyles of their former slave masters by opening small to medium scale enterprises. Some enslaved African Americans found a way to set the ball rolling in their businesses either as skill tradespeople or as peddlers and petty traders. These activities were seldom practiced without the knowledge of theirs owners.
Black owned businesses or black businesses originated in the days of slave trade, prior to 1865. It all started slow and steady during the early stages. However, things began to change as the emancipation and civil rights permitted businessman to operate within the American legal structure. By the mid 1890s, quite a lot of small scale businesses began sprouting in urban areas. The momentum improved again in the early 20th century as the rigid and highly detested Jim Crow law segregation allowed for movement of black into communities that were large enough to support business establishments. There was the National Negro Business League which was promoted by college president Booker Washington with over 600 chapters spreading its tentacles across many chapters, touching every city with huge black population.
At around 1920, the were already well over tens of thousands of black businesses, although majority of them were small-scale, with insurance companies being the largest of companies. However the great depression that happened between 1929 and 1939 proved to be a major Bsetback, as cash income took a nose dive in black communities due to the high unemployment rate.
During the second the world war, many employees and owners of businesses took jobs at munition factories who were at that time paying significantly higher wages. However black businessman were more conservative, giving support for the Civil Rights Movement.
From the 1970s minority businesses began to get provided with new funding as a result of new federal programs being put in place. African Americans who were businessman and based in music and sports began to diversify. An action that went on to record huge success in the advertisement and media industries.
It is evident that African-American businesses have since grown at an exponential rate in the 21st Century. According to existing data statistics, as at 2012 there were 1.9 million Black businesses on the average. Notwithstanding, Black businesses are still challenged. Challenged in terms of access to capital, suitable location as well as support from its very own.
For instance, in New Orleans, infrastructure and construction related services have began to proliferate, especially for black proprietors. However, professional services, such as marketing, public relations and legal have not grown nearly as fast. This calls for immense support for black businesses by black communities. The age long stigma of black businesses being perceived as of less quality, less sophisticated, less organised and less effective compared to their majority counterparts must be dealt with.