Supporting Black businesses has undeniable benefits
Owusu- Nyamekye
By Dwobeng Owusu- Nyamekye
There are slightly more than 30 million small businesses in the U.S. — all of which have a critical role to play in the economy — accounting for 99% of all U.S. businesses.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) defines a small business as a firm that has fewer than 500 employees. It means that these businesses are all providing paychecks each week, bi-weekly and monthly to families across the country, and that is vital to the development of the economy and to the wellbeing of families.

The month of August is dedicated to celebrating Black businesses.

It should be a moment of sober reflection-pondering over where we are coming from and planning on how far we can go as people of color, so that future generations can survive, continue the legacy and pass on the gains to other generations.

Part of the reflections should also look at cultivating the young and innovative minds of Black people from the early stages of their lives and investing the entrepreneurial skills in them so they grow to become the men and women we want them to be. Yes, it is good to have Black entrepreneurs today, but how are we preparing and stimulating the minds of young Black people for the future? Ohio is blessed to have two prestigious Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in Wilberforce and Central State universities.

These two institutions are just about half an hour from Dayton, and there is no excuse for Black businesses around the enclave to not help grow and train the young minds going through these universities.

For instance, Wilberforce University, a private, HBCU in Wilberforce, has a vibrant Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

The center is engaged in helping young Black men and women find and hone their craft, carve a niche and challenge their entrepreneurial skills for the future.

As a requirement for graduation, each Wilberforce student is required to take the Foundation for Entrepreneurship course.

This shows how critical entrepreneurship is to the university.

So, as we celebrate Black Business Month, I am entreating the many entrepreneurs around the Dayton area to look into underwriting some courses at the university or to support the Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Wilberforce University.

According to the Dayton Daily News, in 2017, about 58,000 Dayton residents were Black, making up about 41% of the city’s population. In 2015, the median annual income for Caucasians in Montgomery County was $39,925.

People of color earned $17,000 less, or $22,197.

These figures are worrisome, and that is why Black businesses must help fill in the gap by supporting young Black folk who are demonstrating resilience, capacity and tenacity to stem the tide by moving against all odds to still attend classes throughout the worst pandemic in the world’s history. These Black students are doing so because they want better lives. So, the case is already made that supporting Black businesses has many potentials and benefits.

On the occasion of the Black Business month, I wish all Black businesses continued success.

Dwobeng Owusu-Nyamekye, Ph.D., is dean of professional studies at Wilberforce University.