Maggie says black businesses have suffered because the fiscal benefits of integration were one-sided.
“Integration made sure that other [ethnic businesses] had the opportunity to flourish and prosper in our community and take that money back out,” says Maggie, a stay-at-home mother who has a law degree and an MBA from the University of Chicago. “Black business owners were not welcomed to go into a white, Korean, Asian, or an Arabic community and start building up black businesses there. Our money just kept going out and it wasn’t reciprocated.”
“The fact that certain people would choose culturally to pick a group of their own to purchase their services and products happens all of the time,” says Michelle Collins, owner of a Chicago-based business and financial advisory firm that serves lower middle-market companies. “For African Americans it is a little challenging because they don’t have a particular geographic community. The Andersons are going about it in a different way, but it is a natural outcome from any group.”
In addition to Rogers, a professor of entrepreneurship at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, the Andersons enlisted scholarly help from Georgetown professor and critically acclaimed author Michael Eric Dyson, Ph.D., and Michael Bennett, Ph.D., an associate professor and the executive director of DePaul University’s Egan Urban Economic Development Center.
“Black businesses get rejected for business loans at a higher rate than any other ethnic group,” says Rogers, adding that black business owners have difficulty obtaining access to capital to start and grow businesses. Rogers believes that the black community has always been brand loyal and sensitive to marketing and in many instances black companies do not have brand recognition and can not afford to build it.
John Anderson, a financial consultant with AXA Advisors, suggests that an underlying premise by black people that black products and services are inferior is the most detrimental problem to growing the black business community. “That is a psychological problem that [blacks] have. If we have that belief we won’t be inclined to support a black business in a black community,” he says.
The Anderson’s have planned to complete a study. Everything the family does in finding and purchasing products will be monitored and recorded and eventually take the form of a book that will chronicle their experience. Their goal is to turn this experiment into a movement that will connect and mobilize the black community.