Yooooooo. Being a Black business owner is HARD sh!t. Not only are you dealing with challenges in terms of funding, diminished access to the resources, and systematic oppression and racism, but you’re also dealing with customers with high expectations who don’t always care that you’re a solopreneur or tiny team. Some challenges are changing as the landscape of our country and our awareness around Black entrepreneurship changes. However, our Black business owners still face a myriad of challenges as they start and grow businesses. Here are five of the most pressing challenges — and how Nile may help.
Funding the Business
80% of Black entrepreneurs identify lack of capital was the most challenging aspect of running their business, and most of them fund their own businesses without investments or loans. In fact, Black women-led startups have received only 0.0006% of all venture capital funding in the last decade. As Nile grows, we seek to be a platform that connects business owners to potential investors and funding opportunities through exposure and networking.
Building a Team
Less than 5% of Black-owned businesses have paid employees. Black entrepreneurs are having to go it alone, and having to perform every function of the business by themselves. When their business is a product-based business that requires fulfilment and customer service inputs, as all of our Nilists are, that means the pressure is high! As Nile grows, we will create a platform for business owners to connect with new potential team members, keepin’ it all in our Nile family.
Knowing what we know about the lack of funding and employees Black business owners face, it’s almost impossible for most of them to scale their businesses. Solopreneurs have limits, particularly when they don’t have the funding to expand. That’s why Nile’s long-term plan includes solutions to help streamline areas like fulfilment, brand management, and customer service so that even the businesses with the tiniest of teams can start to scale.
Facing the Challenge of how “Black” to Be
Thankfully, it is becoming increasingly clear to business owners that Black consumers have the capital to be a target audience and that Black consumers want to support Black-owned businesses. Yet, some business owners still feel the need to obscure their Blackness in relation to their business. Some feel compelled to do this so that customers don’t view their business as only for Black patrons. Others feel compelled to hide their Black ownership because of negative stereotypes associated with Black businesses. Despite the reason, it’s a sad reality that business owners still (or ever did) feel the need to hide their Blackness for the betterment of their business. One of Nile’s major objectives is to celebrate the Black excellence of our Nilists by showcasing the many businesses listed on our site that make amazing products and have awesome brands because of who they are, not despite of it.
This is what Nile is all about! You can’t buy from a business you’ve never heard of. Black business owners still face issues of brand visibility and exposure to their target markets, particularly when they are one of millions of companies selling products online. So, we change that. And when we say we, we mean the folks here at Nile, but also, the folks reading this blog post. Nile will connect you with the brands listed on our site in a more meaningful way. You’ll learn about the founders of the company and the company’s ethos, you’ll be able to easily filter and find businesses that are youth-led or handmake products, you’ll be able to quickly find media mentions of the business or its owner, and you’ll be able to do all of this on a site that is informative but still easy to use. We don’t want our Nilists to get lost in the shuffle of the internet, and so we are here to increase their visibility and to bring them right to the phones, computers, and fingertips of folks who want to buy their awesome products.
Nile’s full site launches late 2019. In the meantime, sign up for our mailing list (below) to get the inside track on businesses coming to Nile. You can also connect with Nile on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @theNileList.