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Black-owned businesses struggle to thrive in Kentuckiana

A Louisville business-owner may have found a way to make people interested in Black-owned businesses.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — 50% of Black-owned businesses don’t make it to the five year mark. It’s a statistic Tiandra Robinson is working to change. 

“People have to know that these businesses exist,” she said. “And, if they don't have the money to do that, they're not going to survive."

Robinson is the founder of “502 Black Business Week” which started in 2018, and “502 Black Eats Week” which followed two years later. Both were designed as marketing efforts to put intentional attention on Black-owned businesses in Kentuckiana. She also founded her own marketing and public relations company, T. Marie Consulting. 

Robinson says one major hurdle Black entrepreneurs face is lack of funding. 

“Black-owned businesses are three times more likely to be rejected for funding versus white businesses. So, when you have all of these obstacles in the way, it is harder for us to start and maintain," she said. "That’s where I come in."

Credit: Eric King

Nationally, the numbers are improving. The number of Black small business owners was 28% higher in the third quarter of 2021 than it was pre-pandemic, according to US News and World Report.

African American business owners were among the hardest hit groups at the beginning of the pandemic, with the number of self-employed people dropping 31% from the first quarter of 2020 to the second, according to the U.S. Census.

But now, this group is making a comeback. Much of that is because African American business ownership was already growing prior to the pandemic, and in the wake of it, many people quit their jobs and decided to go into business for themselves. That led to an increase in the number of applications for new businesses. 

Robinson points out, starting a business and sustaining it are two different things. She sees marketing strategies as her way to help level the playing field.  

“I am most proud that I have been positioned and called to do these things for Black-owned businesses,” she said. “I never imagined it would get to the point that it is. I just want to continue to be a resource to them,” she said. 

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