Shawntera Hardy, former commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development, wants to ensure that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) have everything they need to thrive in this economy. I met Hardy while filming a documentary called “Shot of Influence,” which focused on Minnesota entrepreneurs.
Hardy offered a call to action in the film. She said she wants to hold people accountable for supporting and funding BIPOC businesses and entrepreneurs. After George Floyd was murdered by police, “It was very touching to see folks provide this national stage in particular for Black business. But now the receipts are due. What did you buy? What did you invest in? Because for Black business, this is livelihood. This is not numbers on a spreadsheet. This is not for social media likes. This is generations of continuing wealth gap in BIPOC communities not invested in.”
When you are making a gift purchase for a friend or family member, consciously think about your consumer power. Consider, for example, buying gift cards to BIPOC-owned restaurants.
Statistics show that BIPOC-owned businesses receive less business financing than white entrepreneurs, and those who do get bank loans have higher interest rates. According to the Federal Reserve, 80.2 percent of white business owners receive at least a percentage of the funding they request from a bank, compared to 66.4 percent of BIPOC owners.
Investment in BIPOC businesses leads to commercial property ownership, credit-building for individuals, and generational wealth.
Many BIPOC women in particular are launching their own businesses because corporate America does not tend to treat them well. Workplace bias leads to ongoing stress. There is a need to perform and produce at the detriment of mental health and physical well-being — commodifying one’s worth carries generational trauma for many.
Arielle Grant, founder of Render Free, told me: In the midst of a global pandemic, “we were grieving a public murder, we were participating in unrest in our streets. Wellness was so far off at that point. [There was no time to] check wounds. We stay stuck in that place of defensiveness.”
Says Hardy, “The responsibility to raise your hand to do better is important. It is not a game.”