As the country focuses on racial equity, Black business owners have much to be proud of — and much to make the most of.
By Krystal Barker Buissereth, CFA, Executive Director and Head of Financial Wellness, Morgan Stanley at Work
But first, some history. If you are a Black entrepreneur in the U.S., you are part of a long tradition of inventors and innovators, pioneers and pillars. If you are a Black entrepreneur in the U.S., you are also part of a legacy of facing overwhelming headwinds, not the least of which is institutional racism.
If you are a Black entrepreneur in the U.S. today, your visibility is increasing. At last, a diverse body of customers is stepping up to support Black-owned businesses, as they should be. Finally, if you are a Black entrepreneur in the U.S., there has never been a better time to review your financial flexibility.
Let’s start with financial wellness. Think of financial wellness as stability. It gives you the strength to absorb economic shocks, such as those brought on by COVID-19, which, according to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy, reduced the number of Black entrepreneurs from 1.1 million to just 440,000 (or by 41%) between February and April.
Financial wellness begins with financial literacy. While there are, of course, large numbers of Black entrepreneurs who are fluent in discussing complex financial topics, more work needs to be done to spread that knowledge. Reports by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation cite that both established and future African American entrepreneurs trail their peers in their understanding of credit scores, debt management, risk and small business loans.
For those looking to strengthen their financial skillset, learning such economic basics can be as simple as finding a willing mentor in your community to help you carve a path. It can mean auditing a business course or two at a local high school or college, joining a chamber of commerce or a similar membership organization. It can also mean teaming up with an experienced, supportive financial services company like Morgan Stanley and one of its Financial Advisors who can offer financial advice and guidance for a business looking to build sustained financial stability.
At Morgan Stanley, we help you navigate. According to the Kauffman Foundation, Black entrepreneurs tend to rely on friends, family, home equity, and their own credit cards for startup capital. These practices can feel safe and familiar - but using personal capital to fund a business puts personal wealth at risk. Securing a loan may offer an arm’s length structure and can avoid disrupting personal finances and longstanding relationships by keeping your business matters separate.
This is where Morgan Stanley can step in.
- We can introduce you to a Financial Advisor to discuss your financing needs.
- We have a renowned Multicultural Innovation Lab that connects small businesses with mentors, provides curated classes, facilitates one-on-one sessions with industry experts, and provides access to capital and a powerful network of allies to keep your business resilient now and in the future. (The Innovation Lab is now accepting applications for the winter 2021 cohort).
Morgan Stanley believes in combating historic economic disenfranchisement with opportunity. We believe in, and empower, Black businesses and entrepreneurship, now and for the long-term.