At DoorDash, supporting Black communities and Black-owned businesses is an ongoing commitment—and not just during Black History Month.
At the first annual Main Street Strong Conference, entrepreneurs and industry leaders from around the country talked about the challenges facing Black-owned businesses and how we—as an industry and as individuals—can offer meaningful support. We also spoke with local Black restaurateurs to learn how we can all keep Black-owned businesses thriving in 2022 and beyond.
Supporting Black-owned businesses with access to capital
The pandemic has devastated businesses across a wide range of industries. According to the National Restaurant Association, 17% of restaurants — more than 110,000 establishments — closed permanently or long-term due to the pandemic. For others, remaining open is a daily struggle.
Access to funding is a leading factor in a restaurant’s ability to survive hard times, and businesses owned by people of color were hit harder.
Katherine Lynch, Senior Manager at Kiva, a nonprofit organization that provides loans to underserved entrepreneurs, pointed out that the ability to weather an unforeseen disaster depends on capital. "There are barriers to accessing capital that are more pronounced for entrepreneurs of color," she noted. "Those that have access to loans and capital will survive, and those that don't are going to have a hard time."
In the U.S., studies have found that fewer minority business owners were able to access Paycheck Protection Program loans: in a survey, only 12% of Black and Hispanic business owners who applied for a PPP loan received one.
It’s estimated that 40% of Black-owned businesses will not outlast the pandemic—compared to 17% of white-owned businesses. While these inequities are not unique to the industry, there are things we can do, as businesses and individuals, to support Black communities and Black-owned businesses.
Black food influences the broader culture because it promotes diversity and inclusion through a social setting. We use food to bring people together.
How to support Black-owned businesses
Be a customer.
Prioritize supporting Black-owned businesses. You can find Black-owned businesses near you using DoorDash with the Black-owned tag or by doing your own online research. (If you’re a Black-owned business, apply here to get the Black-owned tag on DoorDash.)
Lewis Rudd, President and co-founder of Ezell's Famous Chicken, is a member of Peace Peloton, a group of cyclists who ride together to dine and support different Black-owned businesses in the Seattle area.
The focus there is on riding around the neighborhood, the city, the county and selecting Black-owned businesses. There’s been as many as 325 of us riding together and patronizing those businesses.
Join the digital chorus.
If your wallet’s feeling thin these days, there are also a lot of non-monetary ways to support local businesses. It’s all about boosting their marketing efforts and becoming a passionate part of their social community — showing you care, online.
Follow your favorite Black-owned restaurants and chefs on social media, and like and share their posts. Additionally, if you’ve enjoyed their food before, make sure to write some thoughtful five-star reviews on Yelp, Google, and DoorDash to encourage others to dine there.
Give what you can.
There are also ways that you as a business can support Black-owned businesses in your area. This includes partnering with a Black-owned business to offer a special item or promoting a Black-owned business on your social media platforms.
Another example? When Ezell's Famous Chicken received a PPP loan, they made a point to support another local Black-owned business by paying for six months of print and copy services in advance.
It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a community to raise a business.
Celebrate the incredible diversity within the Black community.
The Black community in the US is incredibly diverse, with people whose families have lived here for generations, and others who have recently immigrated from countries all over the world. In supporting Black-owned businesses, we also need to celebrate the incredibly unique, diverse perspectives, cultures, and cuisines they share.
For example, Lookman Mashood, owner of the restaurant Buka in New York, finds a deep sense of pride in cooking authentic Nigerian food. "We take great pleasure in the flavor of the food,” he explains. “Just like our music, it needs to be real, real loud." For Lookman, his restaurant is also a place to bring people together, a place where Nigerian immigrants can connect with each other. "People come and try the food and say, ‘Yes, I’m home.'"
Similarly, Greg Tillery, owner of We Dat’s Chicken & Shrimp, sees his restaurant as a way to bring people together while also highlighting the unique culture of his city. "Food in New Orleans is more than just food, food in New Orleans is what brings families together," Greg says. "Our city is filled with so much life, so much culture, amazing food, and amazing people."
Another New Orleans business, NoLa Cookie Company, finds a way to connect family to cooking. Owner Brittney Hawkins-Dobard follows the legacy of her grandmother, who was also a cook. "I'm just happy we can provide sweet treats that remind our customers of their mom or their grandmother, someone who bakes for them," Brittney shares.
Celebrating Black History Month at DoorDash
At the end of the Main Street Strong Conference, DoorDash CEO Tony Xu talked about the importance of access and opportunity. "Talent is evenly distributed—access and opportunity aren't," Tony said.
That’s why, beyond honoring the Black entrepreneurs of yesterday and today, we’re also using Black History Month as a moment to offer additional practical support for Black-owned businesses. Here’s some of what we’re doing:
Boosting in-app visibility. Prioritizing Black-owned businesses on the DoorDash platform with marketing campaigns and additional promotional placement this month.
Increasing access to opportunity: DoorDash has created Entrepreneurship & Access programs in the U.S. and Canada , which are designed to help level the playing field for restaurant-owners of color, as well as women. The programs offer a range of financial benefits, including education and training.
Amplifying Black voices: Working with Black chefs and restaurateurs across the U.S. and Canada to celebrate and amplify Black food culture.
Spotlighting Black-owned businesses with BET: Launching a Black-curated cooking series with BET, highlighting businesses from DoorDash’s Main Street Strong Accelerator program.
As a company, we are committed to continuing taking action through our product, our platform, and our resources—and we hope you’ll join us.