For Black History Month, Visit.org’s blog will be highlighting partner organizations that promote racial equity for the Black community.
Since 2010, Start Small Think Big has been ensuring that under-resourced entrepreneurs gain access to top-tier guidance from seasoned professionals. Serving entrepreneurs experiencing racial, gender, and socioeconomic marginalization, among other disadvantages. Start Small Think Big bolsters each budding business by connecting them — for free — with a network of experts who volunteer as legal, financial, and marketing mentors.
This month, the organization is spotlighting Black-owned businesses — with an emphasis on the variety of ways corporate teams and individuals can support them. In this Q&A, Lindsey Tullman, Director of Business Development & Marketing at Start Small Think Big, explains the organization’s mission, impact, and continued support of Black entrepreneurs — plus how you can get involved.
How does Start Small Think Big impact the Black community?
Jessica Spaulding, Founder, CEO, & Head Chocolatier of The Harlem Chocolate Factory.
Start Small Think Big is built upon the belief that if all people, regardless of their financial status, zip code, or connections, are going to have the power to make decisions about their own lives, we must invest in their ability to build assets for themselves and their families. We are driven by the fundamental tenet that if the color of a person’s skin is not going to continue to determine what they can or can’t do, we must level the playing field.
95% of small businesses we work with are owned by people of color or women, like previously unemployed Jessica Spaulding who is now the proud owner of Harlem Chocolate Factory. In the past five years alone, Start Small Think Big has engaged over 7,000 skill-based volunteers who have provided over $50M in pro bono services to over 5,000 small business owners.
In the first year of working with Start Small Think Big, entrepreneurs see their business revenue increase by 50% or more. Our goal is to amplify the voices of the under-resourced, increase support for small business, and celebrate what it means to be #allforsmall.
Is Start Small Think Big commemorating Black History Month this year, if so, how?
This month we will be promoting a shopping guide featuring some of the amazing Black-owned businesses we work with. We will also be sharing personal stories from our community on how they are honoring Black History Month and what the month-long observance means to them. Lastly, our corporate partners are also planning virtual masterclasses (cooking, yoga, art, etc.) for their employees which will be hosted by multiple Black entrepreneurs we work with!
How can the public get involved with your work?
Corporations or individuals can contribute their time and expertise by providing mentorship and technical assistance for our small business owners — we offer many different volunteer formats that can accommodate the busy lives we all lead these days! We are always looking for marketing, financial, and legal experts and volunteers to advise the small business owners we work with. Additionally, we also accept donations, which fuels our work and directly makes an impact on the small businesses we work with.
In what other ways can people support the Black community this month?
Some other ways people can support the Black community is to buy from Black-owned businesses, not only in February, but throughout the entire year! When we lift up a small business, we lift up a community. Studies show that 48% of small business purchases are recirculated locally compared to only 14% by chain stores. Studies also show that Black- and Brown-owned businesses are more likely to hire people from their own communities. This means supporting Black- and Brown-owned businesses also supports Black and Brown families, community members, and employees.
Check out our online Shopping Directory to discover and shop Black-owned small businesses! And encourage your friends and family to shop from Black-owned businesses too.
To facilitate a corporate volunteer experience with Start Small Think Big, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover photo courtesy of Brandy Kennedy
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