MBP 2019 Edition2 - Page 68



“ENTREPRENEURSHIP: The Modern Day Crime-Stopper”
By Judge Verda M. Colvin
Entrepreneurship is as old as time. Creating a business while building it to generate a profit is said to be one of the
most freeing ventures one can do to build personal wealth and satisfaction while also empowering a community.
This is the one area where anyone, but particularly African Americans, can take their dreams into their hands and
build a life on their own terms, empower a community and thwart the ever-growing crime statistics. It is said to be
the hardest work you’ll ever love.
Historically many African American entrepreneurs developed their skills and dreams through their individual
ownership of small businesses out of necessity. Many societal factors led to this. Discrimination, the loss of a job,
diminishing manufacturing jobs are among the many reasons some have ventured into various small businesses.
This type of forward thinking can only lead young African Americans to believe that they too can create financial
sustainability through their own business ventures.
Small Business Trends reported during the fall of last year that businesses owned by African Americans rose
considerably between 2007-2012 going from 7.1 percent to 9.4 percent. In August 2018 this same publication
reported that there has been a huge increase, 400%, in a year over year period between 2017 and 2018 in the
number of African American small business owners. This growth indicated that entrepreneurship among AfricanAmericans was rising faster than all other minority ethnic groups.
Supporting the efforts of African American entrepreneurs enhances communities and uplifts the prosperity of
those whom they serve. The Economic Policy Institute, The State of Working America indicted that “Black people
spend four percent more money annually than any other race despite the fact that they live in poverty at the
highest rate.” If this fact is true, it is more proof of the long-term benefits of entrepreneurship in the AfricanAmerican community. Monies spent in these communities generate wealth, jobs and a sense of pride in the
residents. Pride cannot be calculated but unquestionably it builds community with positivity and hope which can
change the trajectory of a community. In fact, 41% of African American small businesses employ 2 to 5 people, 7%
employ 6 to 10 people and 2% employ 11 to 15 people. Not surprising 57% of all African American businesses
responding to Small Business Trends survey indicated that their businesses are currently profitable. This trend can
only help rebuild our communities, inspire young residents of those communities and change the trajectory of a
people.
Urban Affairs Review reported that the growth of African American-owned businesses was strongly linked to a
reduction in black youth violence between 1990 to 2000. During this time period the rate of violent crime among
African-American adolescents dropped by 29 percent, while concurrently, African-American- owned businesses
grew by 22 percent. Sociologist Karen Parker opined that there are two explanations for this finding. “One is that
black owned businesses act as “social buffers”: their owners serve as role models to young people and create
social networks that shield and divert young people from a life of crime”. Secondly, “black businesses mitigate
some of the economic factors that contribute to youth violence in African American communities because they
add jobs, provide employment opportunities and generally improve neighborhoods”.
The owner of the barber shop who serves a young black teen empowers him to believe that he too can have his
own business which allows him to pursue his dreams; thereby, consciously electing to avoid the pitfall of drugs,
gang violence and other criminal frivolities. I know this to be true. On Saturday evening I had the wonderful
opportunity to attend the Washington Ave. Presbyterian Church’s 180th Church Anniversary. I was fortunate to sit
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