The Urban League of Greater Atlanta’s mission is to be invested in the economic success of African Americans. This mission is as vital today as it was when the organization was started 100 years ago. Well documented research has found that Black households possess, on average, about one-tenth the median net worth of White households. While a number of factors contribute to this persistent racial wealth gap, creating new economic opportunities through viable and sustainable Black-owned businesses is a critical pathway to economic development and empowerment.
There are significant wealth advantages for business owners compared to nonbusiness owners. The median net worth for Black business owners is 12 times higher than Black nonbusiness owners. Business ownership also narrows the racial wealth gap: while White adults have 13 times the wealth that Black adults do, when comparing median wealth of Black and White business owners, the median wealth gap narrows. As it embarks upon its next 100 years, the Urban League of Greater Atlanta will leverage its Next Level Enterprise Accelerator (NLEA) as a vehicle for growing Black-owned business enterprises to create wealth, income and employment opportunities for families and communities.
The high-level objective is to provide programming to address the persistent racial wealth divide by increasing the number of healthy, sustainable and scalable Black-owned businesses in the Greater Atlanta Community.
Objective #1: Improve the ability of Black-owned small businesses to access external sources of capital
Objective #2: Build capacity for scaling products and/or services for broader distribution
Objective #3: Position businesses to acquire customers, contracts and relationships that result in measurable outcomes that signify growth
The Urban League of Greater Atlanta has an opportunity to further demonstrate its importance to the African American community and society as an instrument of economic improvement by building greater capacity in small firms. Its programming can also serve as a successful model for replicating in other markets.
Goal #1: Improve creditworthiness and overall financial health of Black-owned small businesses
Goal #2: Expand resources enabling businesses to increase output, secure market opportunities and create jobs
Goal # 3: Enhance technical ability of small firms, improving efficiency, innovation and the capacity to compete
The Next Level Enterprise Accelerator facilitates the expansion and scalability of small businesses by addressing primary causes for low growth and success rates among Black-owned firms: access to capital, lower levels of technical ability / owner know-how and market access. Specific program components are recommended to influence desired outcomes:
Recommendation #1: Assess current state and overall health of participant firm, identifying specific target areas for improvement via program services
Recommendation #2: Provide wrap-around services that offer professional advice, technical development, coaching and education
Recommendation #3: Define and monitor relevant KPIs that track progress toward growth
Recommendation #4: Build community amongst participants, stakeholders and relational assets that serves as an eco-system of supportive collaboration, sponsorship and opportunity