The responsibility rests with business owners, general consumers, and the corporate community.
Inclusive economics is the concept of ensuring that those who are part of historically disenfranchised, marginalized, and disadvantaged communities have the same opportunity to engage in capitalism and successful entrepreneurship. When people speak about disadvantaged businesses they are usually talking about ethnic-minority, women, LGBTQ+, and veteran-owned businesses. These populations are often challenged in terms of lack of economic inclusion and opportunity.
Typically, the reason this disadvantage occurs is because there is difficult access to capital, key networks, experience, mentors, and a business knowledge base. These are all necessary support systems to launch, grow, and sustain a business. If you are in those disadvantaged communities, you may not have someone in your circle to ask questions to, be coached by, or engage with. There is also the general misconception that ethnic-minority or women-owned businesses do not offer the same level of quality as a majority-owned competing business, which is often simply a bias we have as a society.
These issues are real and make the state of minority-owned businesses vulnerable. To approach this vulnerability requires a level of intentionality. The responsibility for this rests on three parties: the minority business owners, the general consumers, and the corporate community.
Be educated on the WHY
There needs to be purpose and benefit for us to support minority-owned businesses. The purpose is in the economic benefit. Minority-owned businesses in America account for $1 trillion in gross receipts and they support 7-8 million jobs. That’s a significant source of economic growth in America and provides an incentivized WHY for the business owners, consumers, and corporations to get involved.
Support and Invest in Each Other
There’s a lot of conversation in the minority community that minority-owned businesses do not support other minority-owned businesses. If we are not supporting each other, how are we expecting our counterparts to support us as well? If one of us wins, all of us win. This could be in the form of creating partnerships, collaborating, doing business with each other, and even establishing mentor/protégé relationships—anytime you can mentor someone who is trying to get to where you are, that creates tremendous value.
Support by the General Consumer
The general consumer also needs to support minority and women-owned businesses. Not only does this provide obvious capital and economic benefit, but it provides a social benefit as well. If the consumer has a good experience with that business, they refer them to someone else. Or, if they didn’t have a good experience, that business owner needs to know. Supporting minority-owned businesses makes a larger impact than people realize. So be more intentional with spending habits and what role you can play as a general consumer.
Support by the Corporations
There is an even bigger opportunity for the corporate community to support these businesses. This requires our corporations to be much more innovative in terms of developing strategies to help increase the number of contracts with minority-owned firms. Corporations need to be intentional, diligent, and do the work necessary to create diverse supplier pools. With this, comes new services and innovation, almost like a domino effect. And this will continue to attract talent and corporations to the marketplace.
In the end, there is a ripple effect from the community, consumers, and corporations contributing toward economic inclusion. When you think about the prosperity of a community, be thoughtful and intentional about the concept of “rising tides lifting all boats”. By supporting economic inclusion, we can build cities and communities that are attractive to individuals who see themselves in this successful and supportive narrative and increase the talent and output of the global business community.