SMALL BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE
SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT
OVERVIEW

Small Business Advocacy & Mutual Aid Roundtable

Are you a Black, Indigenous or People of Color small business that has struggled with accessing capital?  Are you tired of having to attend trainings or workshops to understand all the red tape when really you just want to cut out all the tape and make it easier to access resources?  Would you like the flexibility seen during the pandemic to rapidly help become a regular part of how we support small businesses?

Then the Small Business Advocacy and Mutual Aid Table is for you!  We are a group of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color small businesses working on advocacy for systems change to bring real relief to our businesses so we have a fighting chance at success and sustainability.

Current System

Currently, there is a lot of red tape for a small business trying to access resources.  It is so complicated that technical assistance (TA) providers are needed to help navigate the process.  Typically TA providers are white, mainstream institutions who may not know the language or specific cultural needs. As a result, the Black, Indigenous or People of Color business owner may feel frustrated, or worse, alienated.  As a result, the business is unable to access resources.  Even for those who manage to successfully navigate the system to access resources, they face laborious reporting requirements that remain a challenge to complete. 

A Better System

The Small Business Roundtable was created to advocate for a better way.   A small business support ecosystem designed specifically to support Black, Indigenous or People of Color businesses does not formally exist. Through the roundtable, small businesses network and are able to share resources for immediate assistance.   Simultaneously, businesses identify shared challenges and advocate collectively for change.  As a result of advocacy, we strengthen and develop the small business support ecosystem designed specifically to assist Black, Indigenous or People of Color businesses.  It includes TA providers from communities of color providing culturally and linguistically appropriate TA.  As a result, businesses receive ongoing needed support and thrive. 

Ultimately, through advocacy efforts, we envision an ecosystem with no or as little red tape as possible so businesses can access needed support. In turn, this contributes to long-term impact of reducing racial disparities and increasing generational wealth. 

Learn more about how it works by going here.

The roundtable was born out of the pandemic, where Black, Indigenous, and People of Color were hit first and worst, with higher cases, hospitalizations, deaths, job losses and pay cuts (Pew, PHSKC). The pandemic necessitated government/institutions to rapidly respond, and barriers and typical ways of doing business gave way in the crisis. COVID relief measures are expiring, yet the state of emergency for communities of color, apparent prior to and exacerbated by the pandemic, has not ended.

As we emerge from the acute phase of COVID, our region is at a crossroads. Returning to business as usual is complicit with maintaining long standing racial disparities.  As an alternative, we can maintain the innovation, flexibility and responsiveness brought on by the pandemic, presenting an opportunity to address long standing disparities.  The roundtable was formed to advocate for permanent systems change so Black, Indigenous, and People of Color businesses have access to resources so they may survive and thrive.

The roundtable is for Black Indigenous or People of Color small businesses looking for peer support to address challenges and to advocate collectively in a loud and large voice for policy changes to remove barriers to accessing support and resources.

We meet monthly to strategize on advocacy efforts to remove barriers.  As we shape the system we want, it is also an opportunity for peer support to address challenges.  It is advocacy efforts for and by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color small businesses.   

Our current efforts focus on a proposal to use federal COVID relief, rescue, and recovery dollars to significantly increase access to capital and tailored technical assistance for businesses. We need federal funds due to WA state constitution that prohibits the ability to provides grants to businesses. Because Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, including businesses were hit first and worst by the pandemic, it provides justification for a portion of rescue/recovery dollars to be devoted to our communities.  It’s also a form of reparations, acknowledging stolen wealth for Black and Indigenous communities, and providing a mechanism for building generational wealth. Read here for more information about the Commerce proposal.

Small Business Roundtable Meetings are held bi-monthly* at the Entrepreneurship Cultural & Community Office (3000 S Alaska St. Seattle, WA 98108).

February 29, 2024: 6pm-8pm (Black History Month edition)May 30, 2024: 6pm-8pmAugust 29, 2024: 6pm-8pmOctober 24, 2024: 6pm-8pm

If you would like to join us for the next Small Business Roundtable meeting, please click on the following link: Register Now

Contact us via entrepreneurship@urbanleague.org for questions and inquiries.

*subject to change