NYC Launches Black Entrepreneurship Initiatives “Be NYC” To Help More Black Business Owners

September 12, 2019

On Tuesday, September 10, 2019, Deputy Mayor J. Phillip Thompson, Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Gregg Bishop, and other leaders joined with hundreds of Black entrepreneurs at the famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem.

The kick off Black Entrepreneurs NYC (BE NYC) – a first-of-its-kind model in a major American city to help create equity of opportunity by empowering Black entrepreneurs.

Shawn Rochester, Author of The Black Tax: The Cost of Being Black in America, provided remarks about the impact of Black entrepreneurship and challenges many Black business owners face. Entrepreneur and radio personality Angela Yee of the Power 105.1 radio show “The Breakfast Club” led a fireside chat and Q&A about the entrepreneurial journey with the audience members in attendance.

SBS is working together with community leaders, local organizations and Black entrepreneurs to help start-up and grow more Black-owned businesses across the five boroughs. To inform the development of these programs, the City is encouraging Black entrepreneurs to share their voice in an online survey. To take the survey, stay up-to-date on opportunities for feedback and learn more about BE NYC visit SBS will report back with its findings and recommendations and begin to launch programs in early 2020.

Entrepreneurship empowers families for generations. Yet, while Black individuals account for more than 20% of New Yorkers, they own only 2% of NYC businesses. This disparity is greater in NYC than nationally. Black-owned businesses that do exist, tend to be disproportionately smaller. Only 3% of black-owned businesses in NYC have employees. White-owned firms in NYC collectively employ 40 times more people.

“SBS is committed to equity of opportunity and addressing the disparity in Black business ownership in New York City is a priority,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. “We are looking forward to engaging directly with Black entrepreneurs to hear the challenges they face and working together to develop programs that allow the rich talent in our Black communities to fully participate in the most important sector of the City’s economy.”

“For generations, Black Entrepreneurs have played a critical role in providing opportunities and jobs in communities across the city,” said Jonnel Doris, Senior Advisor and Director of the Mayor’s Office of MWBEs. “This new initiative will deepen the city’s commitment to black-owned businesses by working to address the persistent disparities these entrepreneurs face in the marketplace and providing the necessary resources for these businesses to thrive.”

“The city’s commitment to economic development is so important especially in areas and populations with histories of systemic divestment,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams. “I applaud Small Business Services for making this effort to help increase our cultural entrepreneurship footprint and cultivating a thriving business environment while addressing the challenges for Black business owners.”

“With Medgar Evers College’s 50th anniversary approaching in 2020, we are so pleased to partner with SBS’s BE initiative,” said Jo-Anne Rolle Dean of the School of Business at Medgar Evers College. “Together, we will continue to be a pillar of support for our community and offer the next generation of MEC graduates and entrepreneurs the tools they need to conquer the world and achieve their dreams.”

“A great American city must have a commitment to growing businesses owned by people of color,” said National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial. “To do so, creates jobs, economic sustainability and is one of the most important ways to close the persistent racial wealth gap. New York City, as a great city, should and must lead the way. A strong initiative should include everything from expanding public contracting to opening doors for businesses of color in the city’s major industries.”

“The Founding Chapter of the One Hundred Black Men applauds and strongly supports Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to the growth and development of Black businesses within the City of New York,” said Courtney A. Bennett, Executive Director, One Hundred Black Men of New York. “We understand that access to government contracts leads to job growth in New York City’s Black Community.”

“Black entrepreneurs have played and continue to play an important role in the economic development of their communities but also on the national and global stage,” said Lourdes Zapata, president and CEO of the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation. “SoBRO is proud to partner with the NYC Department of Small Business Services in its groundbreaking initiative to support and nurture black entrepreneurship and looks forward to continuing to participate in the creation of wealth for these important members of New York City’s diverse business community.”

“The Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI) applauds the de Blasio administration and the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) under the leadership of Commissioner Gregg Bishop on the launching of the Black Entrepreneurship Initiative “BE NYC,” said Roy A. Hastick, Sr., president and Founder of CACCI. “This new initiative which is intended to strengthen Black businesses in NYC, will provide opportunities for more Black-owned business owners to collaborate with each other, explore new initiatives and share best practices. This new venture is a step in the right direction and will encourage partnerships that will ultimately enhance the economy of New York City. A great step in the right direction.”

“A critical component to every small business’ growth is support from peers and mentors, which is not easy to find or a natural instinct for startups to seek out, being a minority makes it even more challenging,” said Hope Knight, president & CEO of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation. “It’s a tremendous honor to be part of BE NYC and serve as a guide to such talented business minds.”

SBS helps unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building vibrant neighborhoods across the five boroughs. For more information, visit, or call 311.

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