Black-owned businesses across the country are putting up signs to show solidarity with protesters and deter looting
Black-owned businesses across the country have suffered extensive damage from looting related to protests over the death of George Floyd. In response, many Black business owners are putting up signs to self-identify as Black-owned businesses and in support of justice for George Floyd. Critics say these signs direct looting to other businesses, but proponents say they are simply a show of solidarity. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
As protests over the death of George Floyd sweep the country, Black-owned businesses are putting up signs to avoid getting caught in the crossfire. In Chicago, Illinois, majority Black neighborhoods in the South and West sides of the city were some of the hardest hit by protest-related violence and property damages, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Keanna Barber, the owner and CEO of WDB Marketing Group, printed 500 signs for black-owned businesses to show support for protestors and ask looters to leave them alone. "I was heartbroken to see so many Black-owned businesses get looted," Barber told the Chicago Sun-Times. Similar signs are popping up in the windows and on the boards of Black-owned businesses across the country, including in Dallas, Texas, where store owners spray painted notices on their storefront boards. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, signs saying "Local Black Owned Business. We are in this together. #JusticeforGeorge" were distributed by the city's Office of Violence Prevention, according to WISN-TV. Critics say that these signs encourage looters to target other businesses. But Barber says the signs are mostly meant to convey solidarity. "I think, more than anything, it gives people pride, unifying them in something they can stand for," Barber said. Black-owned businesses aren't the only businesses that are expressing support for the protests In Seattle's International District, at least 21 small businesses were damaged during the city's protests last weekend. Afterward, local artists and community members came together to help board up businesses in the area, painting murals on the boards in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Longtime International District resident Dev Kabanela, who helped organize the effort, told Business Insider that the artists chose the images "to undo the myths of separation between Black and Asian peoples."
SEE ALSO: Restaurant owners say damages due to looting can be fixed, but there are bigger problems on the horizon Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why thoroughbred horse semen is the world's most expensive liquid
More like this (3)
Black Lives Matter protests inspired a wave of investor support for Black-owned businesses. These 3 Black founders in Europe tell us what must happen next.
After the death of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter protests drew attention to racial inequality around...After the death of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter protests drew attention to racial inequality around the world. Venture capitalists, who spend just 1% of their money on Black-owned businesses, have upped their support for Black entrepreneurs through new initiatives. Some members of the public have rushed to help Black-owned businesses, too. Three Black founders in Europe told Business Insider discuss what needs to happen for this support to last. They warn that without structural change, Black entrepreneurs will remain underfunded and left out. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories In 2018, Ghanaian-German entrepreneur Nana Addison was pitching a beauty service booking app called Styleindi, aimed at an ethnically diverse customer base. Potential investors shied away because there was no data to back up her business case: Germany does not collect stats on its citizens' ethnicities. So she created CURL CON, a Black hair, beauty, and lifestyle fair, and made 30,000 euros ($35,600) on a 300 euro ($356) budget from thousands of customers, who came from across Europe. She showed there was a market for products aimed at a diverse audience — and those same investors that said Styleindi was "too niche" soon came knocking. Styleindi was officially born. Addison is frustrated by the extra hoops she had to jump through, saying her story "could be inspiring" but is "actually really sad." "I have to do all of that just to fund my tech business, when there are billions being invested in other similar tech businesses," she says. Just 1% of venture capital funding goes to startups led by Black founders, according to Crunchbase. Immediately after the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in June, following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, venture capital firms rushed to help: SoftBank, for example, invested $100 million in startup founders of colour via its Opportunity Fund. Some members of the public also upped their support for Black-owned businesses. Black founders have welcomed this, but some fear the focus will dwindle, leaving them back where they were before BLM grabbed headlines — underfunded and left out. The surge in interest benefited Benedicta Banga, who in 2019 launched UK-based shopping app Blaqbase, which showcases products from black-owned businesses. It was designed to highlight "the great things Black women were doing." She says sign-ups soared around the protests. "White women with quite big audiences started sharing us … That was unexpected and it was quite welcome to see that people outside of the community were supportive," she says. "I like that there's more people trying to create distribution platforms for the Black-owned brands, which is a good thing for the brands because that allows them to scale." More... 12 online directories all entrepreneurs who care about diversity should be checking daily to connect with Black vendors, business partners, and contractors Demi Ariyo founded UK-based Lendoe, a lender that helps Black and ethnic minority early-stage entrepreneurs, in 2018. Data from lender ThinCats suggests half of small businesses are rejected when they seek finance for the first time — and Ariyo says black founders face extra barriers. Black and ethnic minority entrepreneurs are "too scared to approach the banks … their companies need finance, but because they feel they are going to be discriminated against or turned down, they don't attempt it," he says. He launched Lendoe in 2017 as a side project, providing loans of between £1,000 ($1,310) and £2,000 ($2,620). At the end of 2019, when Ariyo began working full-time on the firm, he found raising the necessary money challenging. "If we approach a bank to raise capital, we go with a portfolio of these businesses that are Black-owned and there is already a problem of big banks not investing in these owners," he says. The fact many of Lendoe's clients are cash-centric businesses like barbers or nail salons, with no or little online presence, made the banks apprehensive. Lendoe's commitment to support what it calls "underestimated founders" also made it difficult to recruit talented staff, who could earn more elsewhere, Ariyo says. But "since the BLM campaign broke out, that's changed significantly," he says. "We've built a steering committee that consists of at least 100 years of funding experience from private equity to investment banking and hedge funds. And that's people from the Black community who now want to give back." While the increased interest isn't solely due to the BLM protests, the movement has "highlighted the need for us to come together," he adds. Addison says BLM has helped highlight the lack of investment opportunities for Black people. "I feel like now there has been a microphone added. My voice is amplified," she says. She wants to see more research from investors on the route Black people take into entrepreneurship. "Many of us don't start in tech but in the consumer, entertainment or PR sector, because historically these have been the only access points," she says. "I want investors to educate themselves on which spaces Black founders exist in and invest there as well as to making other spaces, such as tech, more accessible to Black talent." Banga, from Blaqbase, argues that PR and marketing teams also need to be more proactive in contacting Black female influencers — who have previously reported feeling excluded — and smaller, Black-owned brands to address the inequalities in business. New Initiatives by Google and others, launched in the wake of the BLM protests, are geared towards making it easier for people to support Black-owned businesses, but they will not remove structural barriers for founders unless they are "measurable, tangible and sustained," Addison says. She is still undecided on whether what has happened over the last few months will "create real sustainable change." "So many VC and Angel firms are doing 'lunch hours' where Black founders can get mentorship and advice and while it can be useful, it is time to add some euros to their advice. "They need to put their money where their mouth is ... What I really want is the resources to scale, because I already know what I'm doing. I learned it by myself. Now, I want to see some checks."SEE ALSO: How to go beyond buying and truly support Black-owned businesses, according to 4 Black entrepreneurs Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Inside London during COVID-19 lockdown
Peoria, Ill., was a place where marketers and politicians honed their messages. The pandemic and protests...Peoria, Ill., was a place where marketers and politicians honed their messages. The pandemic and protests have made clear the sharply different realities of its Black and white residents.
Corporate America has pledged millions to social justice efforts since the killing of George Floyd. But...Corporate America has pledged millions to social justice efforts since the killing of George Floyd. But some businesses have gone further, committing to concrete changes in their practices.