The pandemic has been hard on many businesses in the city, but this Black History Month, NY1 sought to examine the state of Black businesses, which have been acutely impacted by COVID-19.
Some conditions can be linked specifically to the pandemic, and others point to the wider systemic racism that existed even prior to coronavirus.
Black-owned businesses are twice as likely to be closed during the pandemic, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. A survey from Goldman Sachs found that 31% of Black business owners say less than 25% of their pre-COVID revenues have returned.
At the same time, Black businesses seeking bank funding, like a business loan, are three times as likely to get rejected than white business owners.
Jonnel Doris, commissioner of the city's department of small business services, told NY1 black businesses have pre-existing vulnerabilities that can make it more difficult to stay afloat with the added challenges brought on by the pandemic.
"Black businesses don't have the relationships, the networks of support. They only have liquidity for about two weeks’ worth of bills at the onset of the pandemic. We also know that the ongoing impact of systemic racism in the financial sector, in the business sector, and the racial wealth gap that they're dealing with,” said Doris.
It's easy to fall into a doom-and-gloom perception when you see some of that data, but there's also data to suggest that there's real strength and potential out there for Black business.
In New York City, the number of Black-owned businesses was increasing at a rate four times higher than white-owned in pre-pandemic years.
The fastest growing demographic for entrepreneurs in America is Black women.
When looking at the city in the context of the country as a whole, four of the city’s boroughs are in the top 20 counties with the most Black businesses.
"We understand that there are big challenges, but the tenacity and the perseverance of Black businesses, we're seeing across the city,” said Doris.
The second COVID-19 recovery stimulus bill included $284 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and there are changes to the language aimed at making access to those funds easier for Black-owned business this time, because there were many barriers in the first bill.
The Department of Small Business Services offers specialized support for Black entrepreneurs through its BE NYC program.