Black History Month: Support for MBEs

Today kicks off Black History Month – an annual month-long observance not only in the U.S., but also in Canada, the UK, and the Netherlands. It denotes the annual celebration of achievements by African-Americans in U.S. History.

Black History Month was formally recognized in 1976 by President Gerald Ford. However, the origins of Black History Month actually go back further.

In 1926, historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History announced that the second week of February would be dedicated to highlighting the importance of African-Americans in U.S. History. Woodson chose the second week of February because it coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12) and Frederick Douglass (Feb. 14).

At CiTTA, we think it’s important to note that recognizing these contributions also means recognizing Black entrepreneurship.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, there are 1.9 million Black-owned businesses in the U.S., and they account for the creation of 910,000 jobs.  Between 2002 and 2007, the number of Black-owned businesses went up 60%, concentrated mostly in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New York, and Texas.

While it’s encouraging to see such growth in areas where people have been historically marginalized, it’s also still important to support efforts to address and correct racism.  One example is supporting policies such as the MBE designation – a certification that acknowledges that there are minority populations at an inherent disadvantage in the marketplace.

When a business receives MBE status, it means that at least 51% of their business is owned by a minority. Once they qualify and receive certification, they then have access to numerous benefits and services – including educational programs and a wide range of networking opportunities.

In addition to the importance of supporting Black-owned businesses, it’s also instructive to consider the potential of social enterprise to make a difference in addressing social and economic disadvantages minorities face.

As a WMBE (Women and Minority Business Enterprise), we here at CiTTA want to amplify the voices of Black entrepreneurs and social enterprises (in February, and throughout the rest of the year!).

We’ll take this month to highlight Black entrepreneurship and social enterprises we support. Check back next week to read more about it!