Where to find Black-owned businesses to support in your community and around the United States — and why it matters
Black-owned businesses have faced systemic barriers throughout American history — and the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that those racial barriers persist to this day.
Fortunately, many Black-owned businesses are finding success as consumers become more intentional about supporting them following mass Black Lives Matter protests and activism over the last several years.
As conscious consumers, we all have the opportunity to seek out Black-owned businesses to support.
What are the challenges Black business owners face?
According to the Center for American Progress, "While Black Americans make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, they own less than 2 percent of small businesses with employees. By contrast, white Americans make up 60 percent of the U.S. population but own 82 percent of small employer firms.
If financial capital were more evenly distributed and Black Americans enjoyed the same business ownership and success rates as their white counterparts, there would be approximately 860,000 additional Black-owned firms employing more than 10 million people."
In a 2019 report commissioned by American Express, businesses owned by Black women represent the highest rate of growth in the number of total women-owned businesses.
But at the same time, these businesses earned an average revenue of $24,000 vs. an average of $142,900 for all-women-owned businesses. Among all businesses owned by women of color, Black-owned businesses experience the biggest disparity in average revenue.
These problems have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, roughly 58 percent of Black-owned businesses were at risk of financial distress — versus just 27 percent of white-owned businesses.
According to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, it's estimated that "the total decline in active business ownership between February and April among Blacks at 41 percent, twice the drop in active business ownership among whites."
On top of that, Black-owned businesses have less access to strong bank relationships, report being discouraged to apply for loans at higher rates than white-owned businesses, and receive less access to federal relief funds during the coronavirus pandemic.
What's the good news about Black-owned businesses?
People all across the United States are intentionally choosing to support Black-owned businesses. And it's actually having a positive effect.
After the murder of George Floyd, a (long-overdue) conversation around systemic racism erupted in the United States and around the world. In a quest to find ways to shift the unjust power structures that disproportionately affect entrepreneurs of color, consumers began supporting more Black-owned businesses.
Between February 2020 and February 2021, searches for Black-owned businesses on Yelp increased by 3,085%. And 31% of U.S. consumers said they purchased more from minority-owned businesses in the past 12 months than they had the previous year.
In a 2021 interview with Bloomberg, Mandy Bowman, who runs Official Black Wall Street, described the difference between past efforts to increase support for Black-owned businesses and this new surge of support as a positive one. “This go-round, the push to buy Black was bigger than I’ve ever seen before in my five years of running Official Black Wall Street,” he said.
On a bigger scale, many top U.S. retailers have increased the number of Black-owned businesses they stock on their shelves. LaToya Williams-Belfort, the executive director of the Fifteen Percent Pledge, told Axios that her nonprofit "moved $4 billion of opportunity to Black businesses" as they worked to get 23 major retailers to commit 15 percent of shelf space to Black-owned businesses. One Black founder described to Bloomberg how her beauty brand, Camille Rose, saw a 70 percent year-over-year increase in sales to retailers as a result.
While some of the initial hype has waned, Black-owned businesses are describing feeling a sense of confidence around a positive future for their businesses.
How can I find lists and directories of Black-owned businesses to back?
While we're seeing increased conversations around the struggles that Black business owners face — there's still a lot of room for growth and improvement.
To make progress sustainable, we all have the opportunity to intentionally diversify the businesses we shop, visit, and support. Whether this is done in-person or online, there are always Black-owned business owners and brands who could use your support.
But it may sometimes feel challenging to find those businesses. We've curated the best directories, lists, and platforms for finding and supporting businesses owned and operated by Black entrepreneurs.
Find small Black-owned businesses to support near you in your community — and around the country:
EatOkra: Black-Owned Restaurant Near You
EatOkra is an app and website that connects "foodies to Black restaurants and culinary events while amplifying the dining experience for and by Black communities."
When founders Anthony Edwards and Janique Edwards moved into a new apartment in Brooklyn that didn't have a refrigerator, it required them to go out into their community and eat food at local restaurants.
Anthony loved tech and Janique loved food, so together they decided to develop an app that would help others to find great Black-owned restaurants, food trucks, and other shops.
They launched in 2017 and now have a national database with 9,500+ listings servicing 350,000 people and have partnered with brands like Apple, Uber Eats, Bacardi, and more.
"I think Black-owned businesses not only house Black culture, but also cultivate Black culture in a sense. And I feel like they're important because they create a safe space for Black people to see themselves," Janique shared in an interview.
BLK + GRN: All-Natural Marketplace By All Black Artisans
BLK + GRN is a marketplace that exclusively features products with natural ingredients made by Black artisans.
Due to the history of damaging effects of harmful ingredients for people of color, they ensure that none of the products listed on their site include harmful ingredients like petroleum, heavy metals, parabens, or any of the others on their "Toxic Twenty" list.
According to BLK + GRN, "all Black artisans are carefully chosen by Black health experts who know what an all-natural product truly looks like." They're providing a service to Black Americans looking for products that do-good — and for all Americans to support Black artisans.
When you shop the curated products from BLK + GRN, you're supporting Black-owned businesses and ensuring that your home is filled with products that are plant-based, sustainably made, ethically made, and cruelty-free.
Black Business Green Book
Created by the nonprofit organization, Color of Change, the Black Business Green Book is a directory of Black-owned businesses across the United States.
Their site features Black-owned businesses in each state — and also makes it easy to find Black-owned businesses you can shop online in categories like Media, Home Goods, Food & Drink, and Art & Photography.
As you make the intentional choice to shop Black-owned businesses during the holiday season and beyond, Black Business Green Book is a great resource.
Black-Owned Subscription Box Directory
We all know that getting delightful mail delivered is an absolute treat. (We created a monthly Goodnewspaper after all.)
Subscription boxes are a great way to get regular surprises in the mail and get exposed to new products, businesses, and experiences. And now, you can support Black-owned businesses in the process.
Cratejoy curates a list of small Black-owned businesses that thoughtfully create monthly subscription boxes around themes like self care, beauty, books, food, and more.
Whether you're looking for a gift for a friend who loves diversifying her reading list, a quarterly challenge to try baking new foods, or a monthly stationery box, there is a subscription box for you.
Shop Black Owned
Shop Black Owned is an open-source tool that helps you find Black-owned businesses in Seattle, San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Charlotte, and Boston. They also give users the opportunity to suggest cities to add in the future.
When you shop local Black-owned businesses in your community, you have the power to create economic upward mobility and social change.
Ethical and Sustainable Brands From BIPOC Founders
MadeTrade is a platform that exclusively sells ethical, sustainable, and beautiful products. They've curated a list of products that are made by brands that are at least 51%-owned and run by Black creators, Indigenous creators, or creators of color.
MadeTrade knows that, because of systemic reasons, BIPOC-owned businesses have had a more difficult time working in the ethical fashion and conscious consumerism space. So they're intentionally elevating and celebrating underrepresented communities that do good.
Books by Black and BIPOC Authors Across All Genres
For too long, marginalized communities were largely shut out from opportunities to tell their own stories in mass culture. It’s important that we learn about the experiences of Black people and all marginalized communities through their own voices.
Founded by writer, educator, and activist Rachel Elizabeth Cargle, Elizabeth's Bookshop & Writing Centre is "an innovative literacy center designed to amplify and celebrate marginalized voices."
On Bookshop.org, they've curated a collection of highly-recommended books by Black authors across genres like YA Books with BIPOC Main Characters, Afrofuturism & BIPOC Speculative Fiction, Art & Activism for Early Readers, Black Women Writers, and Recommended Books to Preorder.
They also donate a percentage of sales to The Loveland Foundation to support therapy for Black women and girls.
Black-Owned Bookstores to Support
In addition to buying and learning from Black authors, you can support Black-owned bookshops all over the world. Libro.fm put together a helpful (growing) list of all the Black-owned bookstores in the United States, around the world, and online.
Libro.fm says, "Being an antiracist reader means not only educating ourselves, but also paying attention to the institutions we support financially."
You can support these bookstores in-person if they're in your town, or you can support them online. In fact, a great way to support them online is to sign up for a Libro.fm audiobook subscription — because you can assign any local bookstore to receive the profits from your monthly audiobooks.
Sign up for a subscription (using the code GOOD to get a free audiobook) — and then pick a Black-owned bookshop to give back to every month.
Black-Owned Etsy Shops
Etsy has long been a helpful platform for young businesses to find new customers and grow their businesses. Black creators and founders have found a lot of success on Etsy since the beginning. And now the team at Etsy is curating and elevating Black sellers who make their community what it is.
Black Owned Association Directory
The Black Owned Association has created a directory of Black-owned businesses to support all over the United States. They currently have nearly 1,700 businesses listed — and they're growing that number every day.
The platform allows you to shop by Deals, Category, or City. It's free for Black business owners to list themselves on the platform.
WeBuyBlack: Black-Owned Everyday Essentials
An incredibly simple way to create change in the world is to simply audit what we buy and then ask the question: How could these same purchases be used for good?
When we want to buy from brands that align with our values, it's not necessary to buy new things. We can simply swap out the everyday products that we already buy that don't have a positive impact on the world.
That's where WeBuyBlack comes in. It's a platform that sells clothing, jewelry, health and beauty products, toys, and more — all from Black-owned businesses.
When you make the switch to buying a product from a Black-owned business, you're joining "a movement to see social and economic justice globally."
Society6: Art From Black Artists
The Black community has played a significant role in shaping the culture of art and creativity in the United States for centuries.
Society6 has made it easy for you to discover your new favorite artist to buy art from. They've curated the work of Black artists like Morgan Harper Nichols from the Society6 community.
Whether you're looking for wall art, mugs and water bottles, apparel, or phone cases — you're bound to find a piece you love.
More ways to support Black-owned small businesses:
- Uncommon Goods curated a list of products from Black makers.
- Amazon has a curated collection of Black-owned businesses to support. (And also, we've created a guide to ethical Amazon alternatives.)
- We've curated a list of the best places to find diverse stock photos (because representation in stock photography matters).
- In an effort to promote equity, Google now makes it possible for business owners to label their business as Black-owned.
- The 15% Pledge asks businesses to commit 15 percent of its shelf space to Black-owned businesses. You can explore the companies that have signed the pledge and shop the Black-owned businesses they stock.
- Call your elected officials and ask them to support legislation that will positively impact minority-owned businesses in your community.