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Black Businesses, Black Farmers, and COVID-19

  • September 18, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic rages on, many American business owners struggle to stay afloat. For African American entrepreneurs, who faced inequality and difficulties dating from long before COVID, the pandemic piled further strain on top preexisting issues. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome is a lack of access to capital. As explained in an article from McKinsey:

Study after study has shown how the racial wealth gap and implicit bias have limited access to capital for Black entrepreneurs. Building the supporting ecosystems to mitigate the institutional barriers that lead to less access to capital and dimmer prospects for business growth by Black-owned businesses is not easy. Even when controlling for factors such as “firm characteristics and performance,” Black-owned businesses are still 20 percent less likely than white-owned businesses to obtain a loan from a large bank.

Farming is another industry hit hard by the pandemic. Even after the USDA’s American Rescue Plan Act proposed relief payments to Socially Disadvantaged farmers, including African American farmers, that aid can only do so much to address decades of discrimination and adverse conditions. With access to land often valued less than acreage owned by white farms, Black farmers often reap fewer rewards. From a 2019 article in the Guardian:

The black farmers who have managed to hold on to their farms eke out a living today. They make less than $40,000 annually, compared with over $190,000 by white farmers, which is probably because their average acreage is about one-quarter that of white farmers.

In times like these, it’s more important than ever to support local farmers and local businesses. Find Black farmers near you with the Black Farmers Index. While I was unable to find a comprehensive list of Black businesses across the Midwest, it is possible to find lists by state or major city, including Chicago, Indianapolis, Kansas City, and more.