The city is launching a new business initiative to boost black entrepreneurship.
Deputy Mayor J. Phillip Thompson, Small Business Services Commissioner Gregg Bishop, Jo-Anne Rolle, dean of the School of Business at Medgar Evers Colleges, and hundreds of Black entrepreneurs gathered on Tuesday in Manhattan to kick off Black Entrepreneurs NYC (BE NYC).
"With Medgar Evers College's 50th anniversary approaching in 2020, we are so pleased to partner with SBS's BE initiative," said Dean Jo-Anne Rolle. "Together, we will continue to be a pillar of support for our community and offer the next generation of MEC graduates and entrepreneurs the tools they need to conquer the world and achieve their dreams."
The new initiative will work with community leaders, local organizations and Black entrepreneurs to help grow more Black-owned businesses across the five boroughs, officials said. As the department is preparing for the first programs to launch in early 2020, officials are encouraging Black entrepreneurs to share their input in an online survey. SBS plans to develop programs to empower black businesses based on the findings of the survey.
"SBS is committed to equity of opportunity and addressing the disparity in Black business ownership in New York City is a priority," said Commissioner Gregg Bishop. "We are looking forward to engaging directly with Black entrepreneurs to hear the challenges they face and working together to develop programs that allow the rich talent in our Black communities to fully participate in the most important sector of the city's economy."
Black New Yorkers account for more than 20 percent of the city's population, yet they own only 2 percent of NYC businesses, according to city data. This disparity is greater in NYC than nationally. Black-owned businesses that do exist, tend to be disproportionately smaller. Only 3 percent of black-owned enterprises in NYC have employees. White-owned firms in NYC collectively employ 40 times more people.
"This new initiative, which is intended to strengthen Black businesses in NYC, will provide opportunities for more Black-owned business owners to collaborate with each other, explore new initiatives and share best practices," said Roy A. Hastick, Sr., president and founder of the Brooklyn-based Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI). "This new venture is a step in the right direction and will encourage partnerships that will ultimately enhance the economy of New York City."