Black Community Entrepreneurship

Apr 28, 2020

I have always been a voracious reader seeking comprehensive knowledge from a broad spectrum of resources and viewpoints.  While attending the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas in the 1980’s, I was first introduced to Black Enterprise Magazine ( by friend and classmate, Matidi Chakamoi.  The magazine provides excellent information from a black perspective about the business achievements and activities in this foundational American community. Well written stories from the magazine’s pages highlighting the wisdom of business leaders from Oprah Winfrey to Robert Johnson and Herman Cain to Magic Johnson are always thought provoking and inspirational.

I was sad to learn while recently reading the Wall Street Journal that the founder of the magazine, Earl Graves, passed away in April after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease.  For those who are not familiar with Earl Graves, he was a remarkable person.  A Green Beret after graduating from Morgan State, Mr. Graves was a police officer in New York, aid to Senator Robert Kennedy during his presidential campaign, author of the book, “How to Succeed in Business Without Being White”, and a joint owner of a PepsiCo bottling franchise in Washington D.C. along with Magic Johnson.  His spirit is conveyed in the following quote he shared about his life, “I may have been the slowest man to ever have a place on the Morgan State track team, but when it came to running after money, I was an Olympian.”.

The number of business dreams that sprouted and entrepreneurs set on the path to personal fulfillment and financial success from the pages of Black Enterprise Magazine is impossible to quantify. It is known that as of the end of 2019 there were approximately 2.6 million small businesses owned by African-Americans that generated over $150 billion in revenue and supported in excess of 3.6 million jobs in the United States. These numbers provide the nuts & bolts of the story of this business community.  They do not convey the importance of the businesses in terms of providing a fabric for building communities and climbing the limitless ladder of opportunity that exists for all in the United  States that have the vision, work ethic, and execution ability necessary to be a successful entrepreneur.

The black business community, like many small business communities, has been seriously impacted by COVID-19.   It is important that owners of these businesses and their employees be allowed to return to work.  Many of them do not have deep financial resources or easy access to capital.  If you can help the restaurants by picking up food in the Central District & Rainier Beach areas of Seattle,  Hilltop & Salishan areas of Tacoma, and King & Humboldt areas of Portland or buy products from the retail businesses or gift certificates for future use at the hair salons and barbershops those purchases may provide the life rafts needed to help these businesses survive until Governors Inslee & Brown start prioritizing the health of our economies equally to mitigating the spread of the coronavirus (Something they have done well).

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now”.  The people of America are resilient.  The people of the Pacific Northwest independent and creative.  Time for government to get out of the way, and let the people of the region start to repair the damage done to the economic garden of the region by a 100 year pandemic event and the aggressive strategies employed by the state governments to protect public health.

IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s premier business brokerage firm since 1975, is available as an information resource to the media, business brokerage, mergers & acquisitions, and real estate communities on subjects relevant to the purchase & sale of privately held companies and family owned businesses.  IBA is recognized as one of the best business brokerage firms in the nation based on its long track record of successfully negotiating “win-win” business sale transactions in environments of full disclosure employing “best practices”.