The City of Baltimore recently received $2 billion in funding from the Department of Commerce specifically to support local minority-owned business development. This includes black-owned businesses and women-owned businesses. At Applied Development, we are proud to be woman-owned, black-owned and veteran-owned, making this cause close to our hearts.
In light of this recent grant, we wanted to discuss what individuals can do to help support minority-owned businesses like these in the greater Baltimore community.
Buy From These Businesses
One of the most obvious things you can do to show your support is to buy from minority-owned businesses or work directly with them. Putting your money into their businesses helps keep them around and allows them to grow.
Make sure that you are buying directly, though. Going through outside services (like DoorDash, Amazon, or Etsy) means that these businesses lose at least some of their profit. When you find a business that you want to work with, contact them directly and find out how you can buy from them without going through a third party.
Write Your Government Reps
Government organizations often need to contract out for all types of services, from diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training to branded items like t-shirts and pens. Regardless of what they are contracting out for, there is always the option to work with a minority-owned business.
Write to your representatives at the local, state, and federal levels. Encourage them to work with small, minority-owned businesses instead of giving contracts to large corporations or conglomerates. Often, it will result in better deals for the government as well as great recognition for small businesses.
While writing to your government representatives, you may also want to look into the challenges around licensing and certifications for becoming a minority business entity (MBE). The process requires jumping through hoops that make it unattainable for some. Mention this in your letter to see if you can support bringing about change that way, as well.
Avoid Treating These Businesses as the Latest Trend
One thing to remember is that supporting local minority-owned businesses should not be a trend. Many people fall into the trap where they hear about it all the time, dive in with both feet, and then taper off when supporting these businesses becomes less popular.
Giving these businesses your long-term support will go a lot further than jumping on the bandwagon now only to fall off. A few things that can help you remember to work with these businesses include:
- Following them on social media
- Signing up for their monthly newsletters
- Setting a monthly calendar reminder for yourself
- Making a point to research new minority-owned businesses regularly
- Staying in touch with the owner or employees
Keeping involved in the local minority-owned business community can make a huge difference for these entrepreneurs.
Write Reviews and Support Online
If you are a business owner, you know that one of the best ways to get new business is through online reviews. Even if you are not a business owner, chances are good that you have spent time online reading reviews before deciding on a business to work with.
If you love a minority-owned business, leave them a review. Then go share their social media with your friends. Word of mouth is critical for businesses, especially in today’s digital age. Liking and commenting on their social media posts also helps to drive engagement, putting their name in front of more people who may be interested in their brand!
This type of support is free but entirely priceless.