Black women are driving a resurgent growth in Black business since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Isha Joseph owns Make Manifest, a clothing and jewelry store in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, which also functions as a workshop space for the community. She remembers the first days of the pandemic in 2020.
“I was just like … this can’t be it,” she says.
In the next few months, nationwide, the pandemic took a massive toll on the economy. Especially hard hit were Black-owned businesses like hers. Joseph watched as the vibrant activity on Tompkins Avenue, where her store is located, came to a halt.
“It was like a ghost town,” she says. “It was more the despair. Just people feeling very uncertain. Not knowing what’s going on, not knowing what’s happening.”
To counter some of the uncertainty, she and other women who owned businesses on Tompkins banded together. They and some of their customers pledged to support one another through the most difficult of times, so no one would have to close down. It worked.
Today, as the pandemic wanes, the number of Black-owned businesses in the U.S. is currently around 30% above pre-pandemic levels.
That growth is being driven by Black women like Joseph and her fellow nearby entrepreneurs. Read more.