COVID-19 and Small Black Businesses: 3 Ways You Can Help

By Dr. Tyra Seldon

The nation and the world right now are in the grips of a pandemic—a pandemic that does not respect zip codes, education levels, or racial backgrounds. As with any major natural or man-made disaster, the health and well being of a nation also seeps into other parts of its existence, including economic sectors. As new numbers come out daily, the US unemployment rate is the highest that it has been in decades. A recent Paycheck Protection Program issued by the SBA has run out of loan money.

Understandably, many Americans are scrambling to figure out what to do next.

Amongst that group are many Black-owned small businesses. From mom and pop shops and online entrepreneurs to brick and mortar establishments, many of us find ourselves in a precarious place. How do we continue to provide a good or service against the backdrop of “stay-at-home” orders and limited access to consumers and clients? As the owner of a small business, Seldon Writing Group, LLC, these unprecedented times are requiring new and innovative ways to stay afloat.

From shifting to virtual sessions to increasing one’s digital catalogue, many small businesses are literally swimming upstream. There are those, with enough reserves, who will emerge from this scratched, but still fully operational and, then, there are those with limited or no reserves who will watch their businesses dissolve or become non-viable. It is the latter group that we, as members of the community, must help.

So, what can you do?

  1. Consider Purchasing Gift Cards or Getting a Gift Certificate—Right now, cash flow is one of the major concerns for Black businesses. One of the ways, albeit small, that you can help is purchasing gift cards, especially for those businesses in the food and retail industries. Rent and mortgages are still due for many as are utilities and insurance. By purchasing gift cards and encouraging others to do so, you are pumping much needed revenue into these businesses.


  1. Buy directly from a Black-owned Company—One of my favorite hair companies is Black owned. Two weeks ago, I decided to restock. Initially, I went to the website of a major chain that carries the line. Then I thought about how much that chain didn’t need my money, but the small business did. So, I decided to purchase directly from the company’s website. What many of us don’t realize is that yes, it is impressive when a Target, or a Walmart carries a Black-owned line. However, there are costs involved that directly affect the small business’ bottom-line, so when possible, be intentional about buying directly from the company.


  1. Write a Positive Review—This solution may seem slightly disconnected from the others because it is not transactional, but here is the reality: Soon (even as I am writing this), the economy will open back up. People will start feeling more comfortable and will begin shopping again. Whether it is a book review on Amazon, a restaurant review on Yelp, or a Google review, this is a great time to shout out/affirm your favorite Black-owned business. Because people really read the reviews and use them as a metric, you are, through your small gesture, helping to promote that business. Your promotion, in turn, can translate into new business and subsequently, additional revenue for that small Black-owned business.

More than anything, during times like this, we, as consumers and small business owners, need to embrace and practice Ubuntu: I am because we are.

About the Author

Tyra Seldon, Ph.D. earned her Ph.D. in English language and literature from the University of Rochester (NY) in 2002. Dr Seldon has served as an English Professor, a K-12 educator, ELA Curriculum Specialist, and ELA Subject Matter Expert. She is the owner and founder of Seldon Writing Group, LLC, a full-service writing and editing company. Seldon Writing Group has worked with school districts, education tech companies, aspiring writers, entrepreneurs, publishing companies, and government agencies to develop their written content.

Dr. Seldon is the author of Write Like a Champion: A Guide to Improving Your Child’s Writing Skill, Time to Pivot: Shifting from Ideation to Execution to Sustainability and Finish It: A Guide to Successfully Writing Your Book. To learn more, visit:

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