“The broader point is that a thriving African American community benefits society and this great country as a whole,” says John, in defense of the experiment.
If the growth of minority firms actually reflected the minority population growth, it would mean an additional 2.4 million firms and gross receipts of $2.5 trillion – nearly four times the current amount of gross receipts, according to a Minority Business Development Agency news release.
“It is not racist to help a community that has the highest rate of unemployment. That is strategic planning,” says Steven Rogers, the Empowerment Experiment’s executive adviser for entrepreneurship and wealth creation. “We have always proven to be the least racist of everybody. We have never been discriminatory with our dollars. We will spend with anybody. We don’t see any evidence of whites buying from black owned companies on any major level.”
“Supporting a minority-owned business is a way to maintain the economic balance, health, and vitality of your local community,” says John Simons, senior personal finance editor at Black Enterprise magazine. “Tomorrow’s great industries are going to spring from all corners of the country. In order for the U.S. economy to fire on all cylinders, the country needs all its entrepreneurs to have access to loans and capital, to expand their businesses, branch out, and even have the freedom to fail.”
Although some might think driving past a McDonald’s or a Lowe’s to find a black-owned fast food place or hardware store is inconvenient, the Anderson’s think the hunt is exciting, and they have learned how to be creative to reduce the hassle. For example, they mail money to the closest black-owned gas station in Rockford, Illinois, 83 miles away, which, in return, mails them gas cards that they use at other service stations.
Farmers Best Market owner Karriem Beyah says his 35,000-square-foot grocery store, which just opened July 2008, is the only black-owned grocer in the state of Illinois.