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The coronavirus pandemic has been one of the most trying times in history for small business owners in the United States. But while COVID-19 has been hard on the business community as a whole, it’s been disproportionately hard on minority-owned businesses.

According to a recent study from the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, between February and April 2020, the number of active white business owners fell by 17%. But the decreases were much higher in minority communities, with active Latinx business owners falling by 32% in the same time period—and active African-American business owners falling by 41%.

And that’s not the only challenges minority communities are facing. The recent death of George Floyd at the hands of the police has led to demonstrations from the Black Lives Matter movement, with citizens across the country joining the marches to protest police brutality and racial injustice.

Whether you’re a business owner or a consumer, there’s never been a more important time to use your actions, your money, and your spending behavior to support minority communities and businesses owned by Black, Latinx, Native American, Asian, and other minority groups.

But how, exactly, do you do that?

That’s take a look at five concrete actions you can take today to support minority business owners and minority-owned businesses:

Use your buying power in support of minority-owned businesses

One of the most powerful ways you can support businesses owned by minority groups is with your dollars—so right now (and moving forward), it’s important to use your buying power to support minority-owned businesses.

As a consumer, this can translate to eating at minority-owned restaurants, shopping at minority-owned retailers (both brick and mortar and ecommerce retailers), and buying products from minority-owned brands.

As a business owner, this can translate to partnering with minority entrepreneurs for contracting opportunities, working with minority-owned vendor companies, or buying minority-owned products to supply your office space.

The point is, you have the power to choose how and where you spend your money. So, if you want to support the minority business community, choose to spend your money in a way that supports minority-owned businesses.

Use your platform to bring awareness to minority businesses

Whether you’re a consumer, a small business owner, or the CEO of a major corporation, you have a platform—and you can use that platform to raise awareness and visibility for minority-owned businesses.

How you do that will depend on what kind of platform you have. For example, as a consumer, it might mean writing a five-star Google review or sharing your favorite local minority-owned restaurants on your social media platforms—and then tagging your friends, family members, and colleagues to encourage them to place a takeout order. If you’re a business owner, it could mean sending an email to your entire customer database promoting a minority-owned business or interviewing a Black or Latinx small business owner for your business blog or podcast.

The more you use your platform to spread the word about minority-owned companies, the more visibility those companies will get in your community—and the more business they stand to do as a result.

Write letters or make calls to government agencies

While there are plenty of things you can do as an individual to support minority-owned businesses, in order for growth in the minority business community to be lasting and sustainable, change has to happen on a systemic level. And, as an individual, you can be part of inspiring that change by reaching out to government agencies that have the power to make that change.

Write letters or call your local U.S. Representative or your state’s Senator and ask that they lobby for better support for minority-owned businesses in your town, city, or state, including increased funding to organizations that support minority business owners. Reach out to your local Chamber of Commerce to ask how they’re supporting minority-owned businesses—and how they plan to improve that support in the future.

Writing a letter or making a phone call to a government agency might not seem like a huge action—but when thousands of people write or call demanding the same thing, those agencies are forced to listen.

Support organizations that support minority-owned businesses

If you’re in the financial position to donate money to charity, be strategic about your charitable donations—and use your donations to support organizations that support minority entrepreneurs and minority-owned businesses.

Do your research and find an organization whose work you can stand behind—and, preferably, an organization that is working to support minority-owned businesses within your own community.

Demand change from other businesses

The more that the business community as a whole supports minority-owned businesses, the better—so if you want to do your part to support minority business owners, demand the companies you do business with also do their part in elevating businesses owned by minorities.

As a consumer, this can mean demanding retailers work to diversify their shelves and feature more products from minority-owned brands (a great example is the 15% Pledge, which is challenging large retailers to pledge at least 15 percent of their shelf-space to products created by Black-owned brands). As a business owner, it could mean encouraging other businesses in your community to follow your lead and take action to support local minority-owned restaurants, retailers, companies, and brands.

Bottom line? In order for minority-owned businesses to get the support they deserve, the business community as a whole needs to stand up, take notice, and take action—so encourage them to do so.

Support minority-owned businesses—and start now

If you want to support minority-owned businesses, the time to act is now—so use these tips to support minority business owners in your community and be a part of positive change.

Are you a minority business owner? If so, here are a few resources you may want to explore:

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