Supporting Black-Owned Businesses, Black History Month and Beyond
By Shawnnette Fraser, District Vice President, Prairie Region, TD
In my experience, I’ve found Black communities to be very entrepreneurial – we are always excited to find new ways to showcase or monetize our creativity and talents. I grew up in an entrepreneurial household where my Mom owned daycares and beauty supply stores, and saw firsthand how hard it was to be successful as a Black business owner.
Starting a business, keeping it going, and finding ways to expand is no easy feat, and research has shown that members of Black communities face a number of challenges relating to entrepreneurship, compared to non-racialized communities.
Many studies like the Federal Reserve’s 2021 Small Business Credit Survey found that while most business owners experienced financial hardship during the pandemic, the highest rate, at 92 percent, was reported by Black business owners.
According to a 2021 report from the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce, only 30% of Black business owners surveyed felt ‘quite’ or ‘very’ comfortable talking to their financial institution about funding options to grow their businesses. The same study showed that 60% of Black entrepreneurs have not applied for any type of funding, with reasons ranging from a lack of awareness to not meeting funding eligibility requirements.
In addition, Black business owners have historically faced countless hurdles based on both unconscious biases and covert racism. This includes payroll inequities, lack of representation in leadership positions and access to inner-circle networking opportunities and a lack of generational wealth which makes it more difficult to source funding or start-up capital.
And yet, Black-owned businesses continue to launch and thrive despite these barriers.
TD is committed to helping remove barriers for groups who have traditionally faced obstacles when it comes to wealth management, loan access and trusted advice. In 2021 we launched the Black Customer Experience Strategy which is defined by the belief that we must take the initiative to better our financial services by recognizing gaps in service and addressing them ourselves through proactive outreach to Black communities. As part of the strategy, the Bank’s Diverse Business segment teams have been expanded with a focus on creating better relationships with Black communities and businesses in which TD Black leaders, managers and personal bankers across Canada are being trained to provide elevated advice and a tailored customer experience for Black Customers, all backed by a research-based approach.
The Bank’s commitment also includes hiring more Black colleagues, providing continuous anti-Black racism training for all colleagues including credit adjudicators plus working with many organizations to help create greater access to capital. In fact, TD has donated $10 million to The Black Opportunity Fund, an organization that directs stable and long-term financing and resources into Black communities.
In my experience, Black businesses need not just financial support, but support on how to properly structure their businesses, operate with excellence, access mainstream markets and tap into diverse customer bases to acquire greater market share.
- Invest in a Black start-up company
- Offer mentorship and share resources
- Build relationships with Black-owned businesses, ask what support they need, share your business contacts and invite them to networking events
- Invest in organizations that support Black businesses and communities, including non-profits
- Expand your vendor and procurement list to include Black businesses
- Be intentional about shopping at Black-owned businesses year-round and not just during Black History Month
- Actively show your support by writing and sharing reviews
- Recommending Black-owned businesses on social media platforms
Despite the progress I have seen from the time my Mom bravely entered the small business world as a Black woman, many challenges still exist. The good news is, collectively, we can be a positive force to drive change, not only during Black History Month, but 365 days a year.