The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has caused economic devastation across the country. Small business owners have been some of the hardest hit by the fallout after many cities issued mandatory stay-at-home orders, closing down all non-essential businesses to contain the virus. The health crisis has created a looming threat specifically for black business owners who make up 4.3% of business owners in the U.S and who are at a disproportionate disadvantage when it comes to securing small business loans.
“There’s this old saying, ‘When America catches a cold, black America catches pneumonia,’” Ron Busby, president and CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers Inc. told HuffPost.
Many businesses have had to halt their operations completely while others are taking advantage of other streams of revenue through digital content. The need to adapt to the changing landscape has pushed many entrepreneurs to go into crunch mode if they expect to keep afloat during a difficult time. Social media has also provided a way for independent businesses to stay connected to their customers with the use of Instagram Live streams.
“I’m hearing from people that are already feeling the crunch and are even going to feel it more in the next couple of weeks,” Busby said. “But I’m excited that our firms that are prepared, are taking this time to be locked away in their own homes, are really trying to think about their businesses and how they’re going to come out of this.”
Other businesses are seeing an increase in business as a result of the virus outbreak. OneUnited, the largest black-owned bank in the country, has seen a huge increase in its virtual banking since the start of the pandemic.
“To some degree, we’ve seen a positive impact, and I say this cautiously, because it’s still early, but we think that people are becoming much more comfortable with doing business online,” said President and CEO Teri Williams. “We’re seeing an increase in customers. Also, people are trying not to go into branches. Our online business is actually growing, but it’s early in this whole experience.”