Campaign Launches to Strengthen 1,000 Black-Owned Businesses in Atlanta

Posted May 3, 2021
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog blackownedbusinessatlanta 2021

The Atlanta Wealth Build­ing Ini­tia­tive (AWBI) recent­ly kicked off an effort to help 1,000 Black-owned busi­ness­es in Atlanta either hire their first employ­ee or offer liv­ing wages to cur­rent workers.

Called the Advanc­ing Enter­prise Pros­per­i­ty: 1,000 Black Busi­ness­es in 1,000 Days Cam­paign, the effort will focus on com­pa­nies in high-growth sec­tors in Atlanta’s South­east, South­west and North­west areas as well as along the Atlanta Belt­Line.

The cam­paign stems from a col­lab­o­ra­tive — launched by The Kende­da Fund and the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion in 2017 — that aims to expand com­mu­ni­ty wealth build­ing strate­gies with an end goal of clos­ing the city’s racial wealth gap.

It will uti­lize a mix of entre­pre­neur train­ing, tech­ni­cal assis­tance and fund­ing to help busi­ness­es grow and ulti­mate­ly iden­ti­fy and retain local employ­ees. AWBI will also aid Black-owned busi­ness­es in expand­ing rev­enue via con­tracts with anchor insti­tu­tions and the city government.

It’s impor­tant to con­tin­ue build­ing and imple­ment­ing inno­v­a­tive ini­tia­tives, poli­cies and cam­paigns that help to pre­serve and grow Black-owned busi­ness­es through­out Atlanta — espe­cial­ly as the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has threat­ened many busi­ness­es in the city,” says Eri­ka Smith, a senior asso­ciate with the Casey Foun­da­tion. And as the econ­o­my con­tin­ues its recov­ery, Black-owned busi­ness­es will need all the sup­port they can get in avoid­ing dis­place­ment that can result from new busi­ness­es, invest­ment and res­i­dents com­ing to Atlanta.”

Reduc­ing the racial wealth gap through entrepreneurship

Busi­ness assets and sav­ings allow for greater finan­cial diver­si­fi­ca­tion and deliv­er high­er returns, on aver­age, when com­pared to homes, cars and oth­er tan­gi­ble assets, accord­ing to a 2017 report from the Aspen Insti­tute. Oth­er­wise put, entre­pre­neur­ship can be an effec­tive way for peo­ple of col­or to cre­ate wealth and reduce disparities.

Black entre­pre­neurs are wealth­i­er than their peers who do not own busi­ness­es. Also impor­tant: Many black busi­ness own­ers hire from with­in their com­mu­ni­ties, which helps to fuel job oppor­tu­ni­ties in neigh­bor­hoods of col­or, accord­ing to a report from the Asso­ci­a­tion for Enter­prise Oppor­tu­ni­ty.

Bar­ri­ers to Black entre­pre­neur­ship in Atlanta

In Atlanta and else­where across the coun­try, bar­ri­ers — includ­ing inequities in lend­ing and lim­it­ed fam­i­ly wealth — can hin­der the growth of Black-owned businesses.

Across the city, some 96% of Black-owned firms have no paid employ­ees. This same sta­tis­tic drops to 72% for com­pa­nies owned by white peo­ple, accord­ing to a 2018 report by Pros­per­i­ty Now. The report, which the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, The Kende­da Fund and AWBI com­mis­sioned, also found that the aver­age Black-owned busi­ness is 11 times less valu­able than the aver­age white-owned business.

In a city that is 52% Black, Black-owned busi­ness­es should be thriv­ing with equi­table access and rep­re­sen­ta­tion to pro­cure­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties, access to afford­able com­mer­cial space to grow and age in place, and the abil­i­ty to lever­age their busi­ness­es to build gen­er­a­tional wealth,” says Latre­sa McLawhorn Ryan, exec­u­tive direc­tor of AWBI. The 1,000 Black Busi­ness­es in 1,000 Days Cam­paign seeks to make this a real­i­ty while over­com­ing the his­tor­i­cal bar­ri­ers to social and finan­cial cap­i­tal by cre­at­ing infra­struc­ture and path­ways for rev­enue growth by work­ing with pro­cure­ment offices at anchor insti­tu­tions and pro­vid­ing Black-owned busi­ness­es the con­nec­tions and tools they need to scale and take advan­tage of pro­cure­ment opportunities.”

Learn more about the 1,000 Black Busi­ness­es in 1,000 Days Campaign

Read more about AWBI’s goals in Atlanta

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