After the Trayvon Martin tragedy left Angela Majette reeling, she knew she had to do something to effect real change in the Black community.
“My son was around the same age as Trayvon when he was murdered,” Majette said. “His death was the catalyst for many of us to get more involved in social impact and civil justice work.”
The Bronx native worked as a legal consultant for many years, and has served as a guide to help business owners navigate challenging situations. She knew firsthand how difficult entrepreneurship could be, particularly for Black founders.
This led her to launch Black Connect, an organization that aims to support Black-owned businesses with pro bono legal support and establish solid legal footing. Launched at the start of the pandemic, Black Connect reports that they’ve helped 1,800 Black business owners, and provided them $25,000 in funding.
This is especially critical since reports have highlighted that Black-owned small businesses were locked out of PPP loans and grants at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. According to Vox, 23 percent of Black business owners who did not receive PPP or Economic Injury Disaster Loans said their PPP applications were denied, compared to 9 percent of white business owners, 13 percent of Latino business owners, and 9 percent of Asian American business owners. And in the state of Michigan, only 3 restaurants that received PPP loans of $150,000 or more self-identified as Black-owned, compared to 223 that self-identified as white-owned, according to the Detroit Free Press.
In answer to this disparity, Angela has recently joined forces with NorthOne, a fintech startup to help offer free financial services, in addition to legal support through Black Connect.
“I’ve seen first-hand the systemic barriers that know so many Black-owned businesses off track, and most of the time, it’s because of lack of access to critical resources,” she said. “I just want to do my part to ensure these founders are able to focus on business growth and not critical funding just to survive.”
The NorthOne partnership is especially important because historically, Black business owners have struggled to obtain business funding from big banks. The Fed’s 2019 Report on Employer Firms Small Business Credit Survey found that fewer than 1-in-4 Black-owned employer firms have a recent borrowing relationship with a bank. This number drops to 1-in-10 among Black non-employer firms, compared with 1-in-4 white-owned non-employer firms. Survey evidence also indicated that Black-owned firms apply for financing at equal or higher rates than white-owned companies, but are denied at higher rates, according to the Fed report.
Like Majette pointed out to Essence, this is part of the reason why so many Black businesses fail hard, and fast.
“The goal for Black Connect is to help new Black business owners reach that critical 5-year point because so many of them don’t get to reach that milestone due to lack of financial reserves,” she said. “We’re here to fill those gaps and help them build a legacy.”