The Valley Economic Alliance created a YouTube series to help close the capital gap for African American entrepreneurs.
By Jason Lewis
Black entrepreneurship has increased over the last 30 years. In 1992, only 3.6% of all firms were Black owned. That number grew to 10% in 2012, according to the Census Survey of Business Owners, 1992-2012. But the proportion of Black revenue decreased from 1 percent to 0.5 percent. Also during this time period, Black median income did not increase with Black entrepreneurship.
To help close the information gap, capital gap, and network gap experienced by many Black businesses, The Valley Economic Alliance created the Onyx African American Business Hub, which is a free business webinar series that can be watched on the alliance’s YouTube channel.
“Black businesses are fast growing, but they’re still having a harder time and they are accessing capital to a lessor degree than other businesses,” said Sonya Blake, president and CEO of the Valley Economic Alliance. “They need to connect to as many resources, contacts, and information as possible so that they can grow and thrive. This series will equip our businesses with more of an understanding of becoming financially strong, accessing capital, and increasing sales through influencer marketing, procurement, and contracting.”
The main topics include understanding your financials, capital, increasing sales, and the different stages of business.
“There are criteria that small businesses need to meet to become what we call ‘bankable,’” Blake said. “The traditional bank loans tend to have smaller business rates, so they are kind of the coveted loan that you need to grow your business and drive capital to accelerate your growth. But it can be more difficult to get that kind of capital. Learning about the important eligibility criteria is really helpful for businesses to know. We talk about understanding the amount of loan that you’re eligible for, the type of loan that you may need, and some of the criteria like your credit. Traditional banks are looking for credit scores that are higher, but there there are alternative lenders that we work with that we connect people with for free. They work with folks who have more challenged credit and need more flexible terms.”
After learning about financing and securing the proper amount of capital, this webinar series teaches how to grow a business and how to ramp up sales so that entrepreneurs can create jobs, serve more customers, and become more profitable.
This webinar series is beneficial to people who are just starting out in business, and also people who are well established but are struggling to get to the next level.
“For some companies it will be that silver bullet that puts them over the top and gives them just the information that they need to go from where they are to explosive growth,” Blake said. “Some of the businesses will be at the very beginning of their journey, and it may just be that the information will wash over them, but it will give them a sense of what to aspire to in the future. Everybody who comes to the webinar will move forward a step in their journey.”
The Valley Economic Alliance also has a business assistance program that has over 200 small businesses enrolled.
“We’ll do a needs assessment, and we’ll find out where each business is individually,” Blake said. “And then our business advisor will meet with them via ZOOM, and help them to figure out what’s their growth plan.
For more information about the Valley Economic Alliance, visit www.thevalley.net and follow them on social media. To find the Onyx African American Business Hub, visit the Valley Economic Alliance YouTube channel.