WESTCHESTER, N.Y. – At the start of 2020, Vivian C. Mackenzie had big plans for her small business.
Mackenzie, the owner of Kathleen’s Tea Room in Peekskill, New York – known for its afternoon tea service featuring scones and finger sandwiches – was planning to celebrate her 10th year in business with a new product: a make-at-home scone mix.
She also was hoping to increase her revenue by 3% with new marketing efforts and catering for corporate events.
Instead, as the coronavirus pandemic raged on and indoor dining was shut down, Mackenzie had to let four employees go. Her revenue was down 90%.
The make-at-home scone idea, essentially a new business, also had to be shelved.
While the pandemic played a part, MacKenzie said another struggle she faced was a lack of access to the necessary financing she needed to do labeling, testing and packaging.
“I think it’s because Black small business owners tend not to have access to the capital that other businesses do,” she said. “I was not able to get a loan until COVID and it didn’t matter that I had profits hand over fist every year.”
The pandemic has had a devastating effect on small businesses across the country, but it has been especially brutal for Black-owned firms. The number of Black business owners in the U.S. fell by 41% from February to April, compared to 17% of their white counterparts, according to a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
In August, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released a study which showed that Black-owned firms were also more likely to be located in COVID-19 hot spots, meaning these businesses were dealing with the “double jeopardy” of the health and economic crises.
But new numbers released by the Census Bureau might point to signs of a revival. The data suggest an uptick in Black-owned businesses in October, surpassing February numbers by 5.4%, according to a preliminary analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In comparison, white-owned businesses saw an uptick of 0.4% in the same period.
Some local businesses are attributing the increase to the support they have received as a result of the Black Lives Matter movement.
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