NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Black and brown business owners are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic in ways that makes general government relief harder to obtain and be effective.
"I believe the number's around 41 percent of black business/minority businesses failed to survive the pandemic," said Cathleen Trigg-Jones - an ambassador to the Black Entrepreneur Initiative through The Lonely Entrepreneur – a New York-based non-profit organization.
She is a journalist who founded women empowerment content creator iWomanTV and CatScape Productions after serving on then-Sen. Joe Biden's communications team, which she resigned from in 2006 with Mr. Biden's encouragement to pursue her career goals.
The President-elect announced his economic recovery plan this week, including proposing targeted relief for minority-owned businesses that have been hit hardest in the pandemic.
"We're going to make a concerted effort to help small businesses in low income communities in big cities, small towns, rural communities that have faced systemic barriers to relief," President-elect Biden said.
His vision is to provide minority business owners priority access to the new round of the Paycheck Payment Protection (PPP) loan and other small business relief.
"It is really lonely when you are a business person and you don't have that generational wealth or even expertise to fall back on," Trigg-Jones explained to WCBS 880's Neil A. Carousso.
Millions of Americans remain out of work as the pandemic goes on its 10th month. New business applications rose 41.8 percent in 2020 from the year previous, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, indicating many are starting new businesses whether they’re taking advantage of an opportunity or doing so for job security.
"When you lose a job and the job market is as poor as it is right now, you have to get really creative to survive," she said. "You have no choice but to figure it out when you're hit with a pandemic and it's either tremble and fall or get very creative and figure out what you're good at, what are you passionate at, what does your community need and how can you supply that need with very little access to capital."
The Black Entrepreneur Initiative aims to provide free business training and support to 100,000 Black business owners. Ahead of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Day, the Milwaukee Bucks announced it will partner with The Lonely Entrepreneur to provide an unlimited number of signups for free for one year of the training program.
"Milwaukee was the epicenter, really, of social justice and change, and now, they're the epicenter of the solution," said Trigg-Jones.
The Bucks were the first professional sports team to walk-off the court in protest last year amid the police shooting of Jacob Blake - an unarmed Black man - in Kenosha, WI in August.
The Black entrepreneur and leader noted Dr. King's vision of a dream that's equitable for all has not been fully realized and she believes all business owners must root for each and support one other to succeed in hopes that economic empowerment will lead to equitable education to turn the tide of systemic racism.
"We're saying, there's room for all of us at the top,” Trigg-Jones said, adding, “Let's all help each other, let's all support one another.”
Watch Neil A. Carousso’s conversation with Cathleen Trigg-Jones above and you can see more information and signup for The Lonely Entrepreneur’s Black Entrepreneur Initiative here.