As if the economic shutdown from the pandemic wasn't hard enough. Now, many black-owned small business owners may also be dealing with damage from the looting and destruction by some in the protests of the police killing of George Floyd.
Even in normal times, black-owned small businesses often are more vulnerable financially than others, with smaller cash reserves to carry them through in tough times. And now the times couldn't be tougher -- black-owned businesses are in jeopardy on every front.
Want to help? The most obvious and critical way to help them survive, of course, is to buy their products and services. Shop and eat at black-owned establishments, and buy gift cards for your friends and family to spend at your favorite ones.
"Now is the time for Americans to demonstrate they really appreciate inclusion. Spend money on less fortunate and disadvantaged businesses, where it can have an immediate impact. Be conscious where you're spending your money," said Kenneth Kelly, chairman of the National Bankers Association, a voice for minority banks aiming to help revitalize economies in underserved areas.
Here are other important ways you can help:
Set up a GoFundMe page
Spread the word
Let people know why the black-owned businesses you support are worth their support, too.
Woods believes video testimonials are the most effective because people can both see and hear your enthusiasm.
For restaurants that have takeout and delivery, before automatically ordering through a third-party delivery platform like GrubHub or Seamless, try calling the restaurant directly because it will save the business from paying a portion of their sales in fees.
"They may not have a sophisticated ordering system. But every last one will work their hardest to take your order," Woods said.
Volunteer your services
If you have critical skills that can be useful to a small business -- for example, if you're an electrician, painter or carpenter, or an accountant or lawyer -- ask the owner if there's some way your services might come in handy.
For businesses that sustain damage during the protests, you might volunteer to help with clean up. Or, for example, if you have a glass business, you might offer a new store front window gratis.
"I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma. Everyone looked out for each other," Woods said. "Have a good heart."
Provide useful information
Many black-owned small businesses may be in need of financial lifelines for some time as the fallout from coronavirus continues. So let them know whenever you hear of a small business grant or loan program from a state or local government or a private organization.
Both the platform and directory will launch on June 19, known as Juneteenth, which commemorates the ending of slavery.