New effort seeks to boost visibility of minority, women-owned businesses in NH
NAACP teams with Citizens Bank, Center for Women & Enterprise to launch initiative
In an effort to bring greater visibility and support, the Manchester NAACP, Citizens Bank and the Center for Women & Enterprise have partnered to develop a statewide directory of minority- and women-owned businesses.
Citizens has donated $10,000 toward the creation and enhancement of a list that so far features more than 80 minority-owned businesses and organizations in a Google Doc spreadsheet, allowing the public to make additions. Granite Staters are also encouraged to join the conversation via social media by tagging their favorite minority and women-owned business using #PurchasePowerNH.
“We intend to shine a light on minority- and women-owned businesses to help drive systemic change through economic opportunity,” said Joe Carelli, Citizens’ state president for New Hampshire and Vermont. “Now more than ever, it is important for business leaders and consumers to support minority-owned small businesses to ensure they can survive these challenging times.”
“This partnership with Citizens and the Center for Women & Enterprise will allow us to expand our work into the area of economic justice inside and outside of the City of Manchester,” said NAACP Branch President James McKim.
Earlier this year, McKim took over a list he found and reconstituted it.
He said the impetus to compile the list came when the Paycheck Protection Program was rolled out. “We recognized that minority-owned businesses were not getting any of it, or very much, and many of the owners didn’t even know that it existed – they didn’t know the Main Street Fund existed – and those that did know and tried were not able to take advantage of it because the rules and regulations and criteria were not conducive to minority-owned businesses,” McKim said.
Often a minority-owned business is a sole proprietorship, meaning it does not have to be registered with the Secretary of State’s office, and even if a minority-owned business does register, the owner does not have to indicate race.
“You cannot tell from the data from any state or local agency whether a business is a minority-owned business,” said McKim, who sought information from the U.S. Small Business Administration. But its website states that minority-owned businesses are defined as socially or economically disadvantaged, meaning there is no data collected on race.
McKim said the Manchester NAACP found and expanded on the list to share information about available assistance as well as educate business owners, such as explaining the need for a DUNS number, a uniquely identifiable number assigned to a business by the private credit firm Dun & Bradstreet that is required to receive assistance or do business with the federal government.
There are a wide mix of industries on the list, including consulting, construction, financial services and real estate, but a majority of the minority-owned businesses on the list are community-based hair and beauty salons, bakeries, coffee shops, caterers and restaurants, said McKim.
“It’s predominately people in local communities,” said McKim, which means the directory aims to encourage Granite Staters who are not regulars to those businesses or living in the neighborhood to go out of their way to purchase a product or service. McKim also hopes businesses will consider the list to diversify their supply chain.
As part of its partnership, Citizens and the Center for Women & Enterprise will encourage minority and women business owners to add themselves to the list, and likewise the Manchester NAACP will encourage minority and women business owners to consider educational programs offered by CWE.
“As we continue to grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic, it becomes ever clearer how women and minorities bear the greatest impact,” said Nancy Pearson, state director of the CWE in Manchester. “If we can connect more paying customers with the small businesses who need them most, what better way to lift up the women who life up the world, right here in New Hampshire?”
The businesses themselves are “happy to know about this,” said McKim of the feedback he’s received about the directory. “They all know they need visibility.”