While the pandemic’s ripple effect has impacted many businesses, a recent National Bureau of Economic Research study revealed Black, Indigenous and People of Color-owned (BIPOC) organizations have taken a bigger hit. Nationally, the number of Black business owners plummeted from 1.1 million in February 2020 to 640,000 in April — a 41% loss in a couple of months — while the number of Latinx business owners dropped from 2.1 million to 1.4 million (32%) from February to March 2020.
COVID-19 is not the only challenge impacting small and BIPOC-owned businesses, of course. They also face old and new difficulties due to systemic social and economic injustices, civil and social unrest, and environmental events — and these ongoing inequities have been further highlighted during the pandemic, including in our community.
For their small businesses to survive over the next few years, BIPOC business owners will need to employ all of their skills, creativity, resources and capacities to stay viable and thrive. But the onus should not be entirely on them.
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. When they don’t make it, the entire country pays the price: skyrocketing unemployment rates, reduced consumer spending and less optimistic long-term forecasts for all businesses, among other effects. But when they succeed, we all succeed.
That’s why companies with more resources should play a role in supporting small and minority-owned businesses — and why Comcast created a new initiative, Comcast RISE, in October 2020 to help these businesses address their challenges and succeed over the long term.
The first two waves of Comcast RISE — which stands for “Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment” — granted marketing, creative, media and technology services to small businesses owned by underrepresented groups. More than 13,000 Black-owned small businesses have received support, including eight based right here in Pittsburgh, and now, eligible BIPOC-owned small businesses can apply for the next wave of the program through August 7. Read more about Ruth’s Way, one of the Pittsburgh-area winners.
Here’s what you need to know if you’re one of these small business owners. If your BIPOC-owned business is eligible — that is, at least 51% BIPOC owned, independently owned and operated, registered as a business in the U.S., in operation for more than a year, and located within Comcast’s coverage area — simply fill out the form on www.comcastrise.com/apply/.
Many BIPOC-owned businesses have suffered from lack of access to resources. This is an opportunity to leverage a program that will provide support without many of the challenging criteria, because Comcast aimed to make the application process as easy as possible. We want businesses to gain the much-needed support that can help them stay viable. Their success is paramount to our economy and to the success of our country as a whole.
We at Comcast are hoping Pittsburgh-area BIPOC businesses will take advantage of the opportunity to potentially obtain some assistance. We know the past year was difficult, traumatic and tragic for so many people and businesses within our community, and 2021 will continue to bring its own share of challenges. And we know Comcast, alone, can’t remedy complex, systemic issues. But we are deeply committed to helping to drive change and begin the long process of correcting social and economic injustices.
Through Comcast RISE, we hope to create sustainable impact and meaningfully support the small businesses which are shaping our communities. It’s not just about the economy. It’s about ensuring equity, diversity and inclusion, and it’s the right thing to do.