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August is National Black Business Month in the United States, a month-long celebration of Black-owned businesses across the country. This spotlight on Black businesses began in August 2004 when John William Templeton, president and executive editor of eAccess Corp., a scholarly publishing company, and engineer Frederick E. Jordan, Sr. founded National Black Business Month to draw attention to the needs of Black entrepreneurs.i
To be considered a Black-owned business, the Census Bureau says a company must be at least 51% Black-owned, that’s similar to its ownership definition of Latino, AAPI and women-owned businesses.ii Additionally, the US Census Bureau as of October 2021 published that Black or African American-owned businesses represented over 9% of all U.S. businesses. African American-owned businesses represented $133.7 billion in annual receipts with 1.3 million employees and about $40.5 billion in annual payroll. About 29.5% of these businesses were in the Health Care and Social Assistance sectoriii . The number of Black business owners grew by 28% percent from pre-pandemic figures, reaching 1.2 million by February 2022. iv
The growth of Black-Owned business has demonstrated great potential economically and socially. Post-pandemic, there has been a huge boom in small business formation in general. African Americans businesses, have particularly experienced significant growth when compared to other groups. Despite this encouraging growth, Black business owners continue to face a disproportionate number of challenges, namely a lack of access to capital and community centric support. However, despite these challenges Black business owners remain confident about the future. In a survey of Black business owners from the Coalition to Back Black Businesses, 88% said they were "very optimistic" about their businesses going forward, while 65% said that 2021 was a better year for business compared to 2020.v
The significance and importance of National Black Business Month this year brings an opportunity for a desirable focus on supporting Black-owned businesses. To generate long-term impact, it’s critical to foster wide-scale, intentional support of these businesses year-round. National Black Business Month is a time to recognize the contributions of these valorous and relentless Black entrepreneurs. Corporations recognize the salience of diversity and are advocating for the allocation of financial resources to Black businesses and stakeholders and investment in enhanced procurement and growth opportunities for Black entrepreneurs. Office Depot has been and continues its commitment to addressing systemic discrimination and historical racial disparities in business growth and profitability in Black and Hispanic communities.vi
One way that Office Depot is highlighting, donating to and celebrating the unique and important contributions of minority small businesses is through the Elevate Together® initiative powered by Round It Up America®, founded by The ODP Corporation (parent company of Office Depot) in 2021 to help accelerate the creation, growth and prosperity of Black and Hispanic-owned small businesses. Through a partnership with the National Urban League’s Entrepreneurship Centers and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the initiative helps support Black and Hispanic small businesses with five or less employees through education, access, and aid. In just over a year since The ODP Corporation launched the initiative, $4 million has been raised to support minority small businesses. As part of this initiative, eligible minority small business owners will gain access to educational workshops, training and mentorship services, professional networks and more. vii
Office Depot also offers an exceptional choice of innovative products and services to its customers through its robust supplier diversity program, which provides opportunities for small and diverse-owned businesses to grow and succeed.
Visit Office Depot’s Small Business page to see how you can increase your brand awareness and learn more about Elevate Together. Click here to donate to Elevate Together or visit an Office Depot or OfficeMax location.
ii 100+ Black-owned businesses to support in 2022 and beyond (nbcnews.com)
iii Census Bureau Releases New Data on Minority-Owned, Veteran-Owned and Women-Owned Businesses
iv Why the Rate of Black Business Ownership Is Going Up | National News | US News
v 100+ Black-owned businesses to support in 2022 and beyond (nbcnews.com)
vi Elevate Together® – Powered by Round It Up America®
vii Elevate Together® – Powered by Round It Up America®