“Why is this moment – in the midst of a pandemic, against the backdrop of George Floyd and in the aftermath of an election – important for African-American entrepreneurs?”
With this question, Derrick Johnson, CEO of the NAACP, opened a discussion with a panel of experts who included Rakia Reynolds, founder and CEO of Skai Blue Media, Tonya McNeal-Weary, founder of IBS Global Consulting, and Darnell Bowen, comptroller for Hello Alice.
Because this year has presented many unique challenges for African-American-owned businesses – three quarters of Black entrepreneurs reported needing funding immediately to survive the pandemic – GEN and Hello Alice partnered with the NAACP to hold an entrepreneurship town hall on the subject.
The State of Black Entrepreneurship town hall is an official activity of Global Entrepreneurship Week, an international movement coordinated by the GEN to empower entrepreneurs and help make it possible for anyone, anywhere to start and scale a business.
“This has been a year of resetting and reevaluation for so many of us,” said Reynolds.
As we head into 2021, it’s important for entrepreneurs to assess current trends, the sustainability of current trends, and understand that in times of major disruption – what she calls the new abnormal – new solutions are needed address new challenges.
Bowen sees 2021 as presenting new opportunities – driven largely by online platforms, which allow businesses to amplify globally – for entrepreneurs to think through their assumptions, and by knowing their numbers re-evaluate how to leverage technology in identifying and accessing new markets.
McNeal-Weary said that for entrepreneurs new opportunities are born out of new challenges. Customers’ needs changed in 2020, in some cases quite dramatically. To adapt business strategy to new realities, it’s best to understand how their circumstances have changed and how their needs have evolved by asking customers directly through customer surveys, discussion groups and more.