Have you heard of Black Wall Street? In the 1900’s, in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma, there was a burgeoning Black business community that consisted of restaurants, hotels, banks and retail shops. But it all came to an end on May 31, 1921 when a white mob tore through the district and families and business owners fled for their lives. That area had been considered one of the most affluent African American communities in the United States for the early part of the 20th century.
How is this vegan related? Well, Southern Roots Vegan Bakery is hoping to bring back some of that Greenwood district magic with its own inaugural Black Enterprise Market on May 30 near downtown San Antonio. The purpose is to bring together Black-owned vegan businesses to showcase to the community. Every fourth Sunday of the month, the goal is to entice vegans and non vegans to try something new.
Since the push to #BuyBlack, many Black-owned businesses have benefited but typically don't have the marketing and advertising dollars to get in front of a large audience. Instead, they have to resort to grassroots efforts such as hitting the streets at markets and festivals to get in front of crowds.
Like on Black Wall Street a hundred years ago, it was word of mouth that spread about the Black business district and encouraged other entrepreneurs to follow suit such as J.B. Stradford, who was born into slavery in Kentucky. He later became a lawyer and activist, and moved to Greenwood in 1898. He built a 55-room luxury hotel bearing his name - the largest Black-owned hotel in the country. An outspoken businessman, Stradford believed that African Americans had a better chance of economic progress if they pooled their resources.
Still to this day, many Black-owned businesses have to borrow from family, friends and private investors because it’s too difficult to get financing. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Black Americans have been historically underrepresented. Black entrepreneurs currently account for 9.4% of business owners despite making up more than 12% of the U.S. labor force."
The Chamber said one of the largest factors holding back Black-owned businesses is access to financial capital, with research showing that Black-owned, non-employer businesses are far less likely to receive financing than white-owned firms. Additionally, Black entrepreneurs are about three times as likely to have growth and profitability hindered by a lack of financial capital.
If you are too far to venture out to one of our Black Enterprise Market events, we encourage you to buy from the Black-owned vegan shops in your area.
Please share with your friends and family that once they try Southern Roots baked goods, they will think this is “so good, you won’t believe it’s vegan.” Follow us on social and tag us at @SouthernRootsBiz.