Last year, as Americans faced unemployment in record numbers, many Black workers turned to entrepreneurship to stay afloat during the pandemic. In 2020, approximately 380 out of every 100,000 Black adults became new entrepreneurs.
To be clear, this boom is not entirely positive. It reflects the devastating effects of the pandemic on the Black community, in death as well as job loss. Many new Black-owned businesses are “necessity” startups, founded to survive layoffs and wage cuts. These necessity businesses often have higher fail rates than “opportunity” startups, ventures founded in better economic times. Nonetheless, COVID-19 allowed many would-be Black entrepreneurs to put their business ideas to the test.
RaeShawn and LaShone Middleton are two Black entrepreneurs who have found great success amid the pandemic. Facing unemployment last year, the sisters decided to start cooking and delivering crabs online. The sisters began delivering crabs door to door last summer, and their business has only grown from there. Last month alone, their company R&L Crab filed 648 orders for crabs as well as several side dishes. In the future, the sisters hope to have their own kitchens as well as five locations across the D.C area.
There is hope that Black-owned businesses will continue to thrive. After George Floyd and the racial justice protests of last summer, banks have pledged to support Black-owned businesses. Last year, JPMorgan Chase promised an additional 15,000 loans to Black and Latinx communities. Similarly, Bank of America announced they will be giving $1 billion to Black and Latinx-owned businesses. While the effort to uplift BIPOC entrepreneurs and their businesses is far from over, a better future for these founders seems just on the horizon.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.