Shopping at Black-owned businesses

Camille Carter, President of the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce

As we continue through this unprecedented year, I know I’ve been reflecting on the importance of diverse communities and how I can help. We all want to rebuild our communities to be safe and inclusive for Black people as well as Indigenous people and people of color.*

*Black, Indigenous, and people of color as a group are now referred to using the acronym “BIPOC.” You may have seen this term in news reports or online articles. It’s important to note that each group referred to is different, but all groups face complex systemic and social oppression. You will also note in this article that we capitalize the words “Black,” and “Indigenous.” As of June 2020, AP style guidelines dictate that these words should be capitalized

One great thing you can do to support the important movement for change is to support Black-owned businesses right here in Madison! There are many to choose from, and most are open with safety precautions in place. In this post, we’ll be focusing on Black-owned businesses, but there are resources at the bottom of this page for finding Latino and Indigenous-owned businesses as well. Whatever we can do to support BIPOC entrepreneurs is a really important step toward equity in our community. 

Finding Black-owned businesses

The Madison Black Chamber of Commerce has a directory of over 300 businesses in the area that are owned by Black entrepreneurs. You can find the directory here. It offers many things, including legal services, real estate, landscaping, works of art, construction, IT and web services, and so much more!

Don’t feel like cooking? There are many delicious restaurants to choose from as well that are owned by Black Madisonians and have takeout and delivery available. It’s a good excuse to find your new favorite place to eat!

selective focus photography of person holding turned on smartphone
Get apps for your smartphone to help find Black-owned businesses!

Other ways to support black businesses

According to the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce:

  • Download apps. If you like to use your smartphone, the apps “Black Owned Businesses” and “Around the Way” are free through the Google Play Store. These can help you find a Black-owned business if you’re on the go.
  • Spread the word! Share your great experience with people you know, including SAIL! If you use social media you can do a post there, or you can reach out to friends however you’d like. The important thing is to get more people in the door.
  • Shop online. Going to cyberspace to find what you need? Consider checking out the Afrobella Online Business Directory.  This list highlights Black-owned businesses all over the country that you can buy from online.

Did you know?

  • Black-owned businesses are approved for 19% fewer small business loans than white-owned businesses. They generally get financing in lower amounts as well.  Of those Black-owned businesses approved for financing, only 40% receive the full amount requested, compared to 68% of white-owned companies. (Source)
  • 27% of Madison citizens are BIPOC, but only a tenth of local businesses are owned by this population. (Source)
  • Wisconsin, unfortunately,  ranks among the worst states for racial equality in jobs, education, and incarceration, with Black household median incomes being only about half those of white households. (Source)
  • Black consumers spend about $1.2 trillion annually, but, given the disproportionately smaller number of Black-owned businesses, a very small amount of that money goes back into the Black community.  (Source)
  • As of May 2020, 40% of Black-owned businesses nationally had closed due to the pandemic, while only 20% of white-owned businesses had closed.  (Source)

Why do these disparities happen? Take a look at this SAIL post for numerous resources on this topic.

Doing our part

But there’s good news! We can help make things more equitable by thinking about where we shop. Madison Black Chamber of Commerce President Camille Carter says, “We ask you to buy local. Then stretch that to ‘Buy Black.’ ” Patronizing our local Black-owned businesses, especially during this difficult economic time, is a great way to be supportive.

As we remember the importance of local businesses during a time of economic distress, we have the opportunity to be allies and supporters of our BIPOC neighbors. We would love to hear about any of your favorite Black-owned businesses and restaurants! 


300 black-owned businesses to support – Isthmus

Madison Black Chamber of Commerce

Dane County Race to Equity program

SAIL blog post on Black business owner Barbara Boustead

Supporting Madison’s Indigenous Entrepreneurs – UW-Madison’s Gargoyle Magazine

Madison Latino Chamber of Commerce

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