A level playing field
New Food’s Editor speaks with the founder behind a California-based start-up looking to support food and beverage businesses within the black community.
COVID shook the world – and hard. The number of active business owners saw its biggest ever decline on record, falling by 22 percent from February to April 2020. But among the hardest hit are those across racial and ethnic groups.1 According to research, black-owned businesses saw the most severe drop (41 percent), whilst white-owned businesses only witnessed a 17 percent fall.1
Figures released in June also revealed that following graduation, 5.5 percent of black graduates are still unemployed a little over a year later; this is compared to 2.8 percent of white graduates.2 This is surely a worrying statistic against the backdrop of an already struggling job market.
“Those in the black community are two times more likely to be unemployed than white individuals,” confirmed Danilo Batson, a 29-year-old equality and diversity advocate living in Southern California.
In a hope to level the playing field, Batson has launched Spicy Green Book, “a premium online directory listing for black-owned food and beverage companies”.
Spicy Green Book – how it works
“We connect these businesses with professional volunteers, such as photographers, videographers, designers and journalists, to enhance their company’s online communications and reach,” Batson explained.
The idea is to provide a clear route for those who want to make an impact in the world of social justice. “There has been an influx of people who have wanted to incite change but haven’t known how to. Spicy Green Book intends to help them achieve this, allowing consumers to support the black community.”
The ultimate goal is to increase profit for these businesses. “Among the 11 million minority-owned businesses, 90 percent are sole proprietorships. Low margins and the high cost of marketing mean only 51 percent have any online presence.”
Batson continued: “Helping these businesses will allow us to increase the economic growth within the black community. This will enable business owners to further their growth and network, while creating jobs and decreasing the wealth gap. In addition, this market will invite the population outside of this community to come and experience the culture.”
The biggest challenge, according to Batson, has been increasing his own company’s reach. “We are a non-profit and want to expand nationwide. In order to make this happen we are looking for more volunteers and donors; many people have signed up to help but we need further support!”
COVID-19 has changed the world as we know it, and although there have been devastating consequences, there have been positives too. From bringing families and communities closer together, to a new way of working, a climate revolution, and, of course, the Black Lives Matter movement which has gained more momentum than ever. Now is the moment to reflect, to act, and to provoke real change.
Let’s work towards building a world where equality and diversity thrives.
For more information about Spicy Green Book, including how to become a volunteer or to make a donation, please visit: www.spicygreenbook.com.